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Britain’s Knife Control Is A Bad, Real-Life Parody Of Gun Control


If you set out to write a parody showing the folly of gun control, it might look something like this.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a crackdown on knives Sunday in response to the rising levels of violence in London, which recently surpassed New York City’s homicide rate for the first time.

‘No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife,’ Khan tweeted. ‘Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law.’…

Guns are strictly regulated in the United Kingdom and the rising homicide rate in London is directly attributable to a rise in knife-related crimes, with stabbings claiming at least 31 lives to date in 2018. By contrast, New York—which has a population roughly the same size as London—has seen a steady decline in violent crime.

There were 15 murders committed in London in February and another 22 in March, while New York saw 14 murders in February and 21 in March, according to murder rate statistics provided…by London’s Metropolitan Police and the New York Police Department.

But this is not a parody. It’s a real news report, which goes on to describe Britain’s existing knife control laws.

In Britain, it is currently illegal to carry a knife longer than three inches in public ‘without good reason’ and illegally carrying a knife can be punished with up to four years in prison and an ‘unlimited fine.’ Self-defense is not listed among the examples of ‘good reasons to carry a knife.’

If we outlaw knives, only outlaws will have knives—which might explain commonplace news reports like this one, which sounds like a weekend crime report from Chicago but with “stabbing” substituted for “shooting.”

Let’s not look at this as a parody, but as a kind of scientific experiment. On the one side, we have a nation in which the availability of guns has been increasing while violent crime has been going down, consistently, year over year, not just in one big city but across the country. On the other side, we have a nation that is famous for its strict gun control and confiscation of firearms, yet we see violent crime increasing. Clearly, the availability of guns is not the primary driver of crime. But we should have known that already.

I don’t know enough to say exactly what is causing Britain’s crime wave. The reports say that “much of the violence is tied to gangs,” which just kicks the question back a step: why are there more gangs and why are they more violent? But we do know enough to say what is not causing it. It is not some material factor—not poverty, because Britain is a wealthy country, and not guns, because they have taken virtually all of them away.

To look at the actual causes of crime, you would have to look at human causes, at changes in the culture and in public policy. To borrow another pro-gun cliché that turns out to be true: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Take away their guns and they will do it with knives.

But what happens when people resolutely refuse to learn from this experiment? They will continue to follow their examined assumptions to the point of absurdity—and beyond. As we should all know by now, there is no limit to self-parody. Once you cross the Poe Horizon, there is no logical stopping point. So along comes this follow-up.

Dr. John Crichton, the new chairman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, wants the sale of pointed kitchen knives to be banned to help reduce the number of fatal stabbings.

He first suggested the move three years ago, but his proposal did not win enough support from policy-makers. Since then dozens of people, including schoolchildren, have lost their lives as a result of attacks involving bladed instruments.

Dr. Crichton, who took on the role of chairman in June this year, is championing a switch to so-called ‘R’-bladed knives, which have rounded points and are far less effective as weapons…. ‘We are very quick to be critical of our American cousins and the prevalence of guns but this is an issue which doesn’t even occur to us.’

As a friend put it to me, “You can’t parody this anymore. If I said next on the list will be a ban on rope to prevent suicides and strangulation, they would take it up.” But only after we finally defeat the National Cutlery Association and purge our politics of the corrupting influence of the rope manufacturers’ lobby.

Robert Tracinski is a senior writer for The Federalist. His work can also be found at The Tracinski Letter.