(My apologies for the length, but some topics are that complex.)
Homo Sapiens (thinking wo/man) first manufactured tool was a chipped edge. Kindling, tinder, and a spark are all difficult to make without an edge. But the most basic "edge" that is human is _thinking_. It is important to understand that human "thinking" is a blend of two different mechanisms. There is the "discoursive" mind. The, for most people, verbal process of "if A=B, and B=C, then A=C." Equally important in life is the thinking the body does. This very much nonverbal process is why your hand comes up and your head turns to the side if your body senses something coming at your face.
Most fear comes from the body. Someone who knows from experience that they are clumsy or physically unskilled because they routinely bump into things are justifiably scared of things that are sharp. They then teach this to those in their care. They will come up with verbal "reasons" for why all people should avoid sharp objects. Trying to dispute their "reasoning" on their terms is almost fruitless. Verbal attempts to get through on such subjects must relate to what their body experiences.
The body has a built in desire to feel safe. For a tool user, the more and better tools they have, the safer they feel. They are better able to control their environment. Societies have a dominant paradigm. That is the simplified model by which the individuals plan their interaction with their environment. Personal computing and the internet have greatly changed the dominant paradigm. Identity theft is now to be feared as much as physical robbery. Ideas, in some models referred to as "memes," the information equivalent of genes, can now spread faster and farther than ever before. Both good and bad.
A breakthrough in how to think about firearms occurred in the last few years. Some university researchers realized that paperwork and records are only generated when a firearm is fired. They then decided to do a survey of all social interactions involving firearms. To the surprise of people who only look at the surface, it turned out that the presence of a firearm stopped the occurrence of violence that would have lead to injury or death far more times than firearms caused physical harm. The ratio by which personal firearms were "safety" devices rather than hazards was substantial. If you are interested in the actual figures I'm sure the NRA would be happy to supply them.
So long as the society in which we are currently living sees someone being "armed" as being a threat to the people around them, then "tools" which can cause bodily harm will be seen as morally evil. Sikhs wear knives as part of their religion because they are taught that it is their responsibility to defend the helpless. It is possible to spread that "meme" widely enough to eventually change the direction of the dominant paradigm. But working in the direction of that positive change requires recognizing that first it is about responsibility. For yourself, then for those around you. It is not about youthful exuberance or testosterone. Though both can be fun in the right time and place, they are not the poster child with which to change society for the better. Unfortunately, they do sell tickets. And by therefore by being held up as role models produce backlash.
People who care enough to think about the future need to think in terms of generating and spreading memes to change things for the better. Don't just follow, try to lead. Aggressively styled blades, that is those that have a point with an acute angle, are basically meant for piercing. Generally speaking, a sharp point seems to be required only for removing splinters in peace time, or removing sentries in war time. If you need an edge to defend with, your moves should be slashing so as to maximize damage, not stabbing, which might trap your blade.
Miniature blades (2"/5cm) who's artistic design follows a weapon for use in battle can be appropriately carried in every day use. But it is as symbol of what you value, not as a weapon. If you are to be able to morally argue for carrying a blade with a larger mass and longer edge, it needs to be obviously a tool for saving lives. And until the dominant paradigm where you live has changed, it should be carried discretely. You cannot intimidate people into feeling safe. The only way to change people's minds is to offer a way for them to feel better about themselves. This does not include the trend in recent years to try to improve a persons "self esteem" by somehow magically convincing them they're a better person. A sense of personal value comes from _earning_ it. And it comes from inside, not from the approval of others.
You change people's opinion of what tools are "safe" by showing them how and what they are able to safely use themselves. And since we all have limitations, each person needs to learn their own limits, _and_ that those are their limits, not everybody's.
I think that the designers and manufacturers of tools can play an important part in changing what people both think and feel. After all, art is about communicating memes at the sensory or body level. The world is increasingly becoming more urbanized. The tools that are best suited for crowded living conditions are not the same as those for the countryside. You are more likely to be threatened by an auto accident than a beast of prey.
Most of those of us that carry tools, carry more than one. If I need to cut out a coupon at a checkout stand or cut some tape to open a box, I use my Gerber Touche. The uniform reaction is, "Wow, neat!" It is not remotely threatening, hell, it doesn't even lock open. It's just a little magic trick where it suddenly appears in my hand. If I take out my Leatherman Wave, I'm very obviously busy working on something. The only time I'd take out my Rescue would be an emergency, when people will be happy to see it. Enlightened people have a natural desire for "netsuke." But we have to recognize that while will still live in an unenlightened society it is our duty to educate by example, not intimidate. I hope Spyderco and other artists will continue to create their American netsuke, but remember, for now only the small pieces should be displayed to the general public.
Please feel free to both discuss (breed with other memes), and pass on (reproduce) those ideas that resonate with you, for evil will continue to spread if the good do nothing.