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July 14, 2008

Do Stabbings Mean We Need More Knife Control?


Almost exactly one year ago, a carload of assailants took to the streets of Calgary and randomly slashed at five pedestrians, killing one of them.


A few months later, a crazed man in New York violently attacked an elderly dog-walker and a restaurant worker, “chopping” at them “like a sword” before being killed by police. Only days later, a Salt Lake City man also went on a stabbing spree.


On March 23, 2008, a Japanese man carrying two knives stabbed eight people in the city of Tsuchiura, simply because he “just wanted to kill anyone.” And he did. At around the same time, an Alaska teenager butchered four people to death with a five-inch knife.


Last month, a Japanese man stabbed 18 people in Tokyo, killing seven of them. He told police he had come “to kill people.” A couple of weeks ago, a man stabbed 10 security personnel in Shanghai, killing six police officers and injuring four more.


Only days ago, the stabbings of two French students in London rocked Europe. The two had 250 stab wounds between them. Also in the past few days, a Japanese woman made news when she saved her and her daughter’s life by calming down a knife-wielding assailant and offering him iced tea.


As these unfortunate events show us, knives of all types – short blades, long blades, kitchen knifes, switchblades – can be dangerous, dangerous weapons. Does that mean we should ban knives?


Knife control certainly sounds like a ludicrous concept. But it becomes less ludicrous when you consider the regulations and bans that have been launched at another product that could be dangerous – the gun.

Like the knife, the gun can be dangerous when used recklessly or with criminal intent. Somewhere, however, someone decided that the government should regulate the ownership and carrying of guns. Not knives, crowbars, baseball bats, nunchucks, spears or ninja stars. Just guns.


Yet ironically, although all of these weapons can be as dangerous as guns, only guns can provide adequate self-defense for victims. Think about it. If neither an assailant nor his female victim is armed, the assailant is most likely going to overpower the woman. If they are both armed with knives, crowbars, and baseball bats, physical superiority would still be the major factor in the confrontation. Even mace necessitates sharp coordination and a close distance between the two.


Indeed only a gun can give the victim an advantage if her assailant is carrying any other weapon. If he is carrying a gun, they will at least be equals. Or she could even have the upper hand if she has practiced her shot more than he has. More likely, a criminal would be completely uninterested in attacking an armed victim or burglarizing a house that is possibly home to armed residents.


So why ban guns? Recently, the District of Columbia had a complete ban on handguns overturned by the Supreme Court. But a similar law is still standing in Chicago (though is fortunately unlikely to last very long), and various unreasonable regulations on guns continue to exist across the country.


A man stabbed 18 people and another slashed 10 police officers before being stopped, for crying out loud! It should at some point become obvious that people do not need guns to kill other people. And it should be equally clear that it is not the guns that kill, but the nuts who use them – or any other weapon, for that matter.


There is no doubt that gun control makes some policy makers feel good about taking steps against crime. But as we see in every other aspect of government policy, “feel good” motivation often leads to the most inefficient and harmful laws. The murderers will always find a way to kill, irrespective of their access to guns. So if you wish to regulate guns, you must do the same for every item that could potentially kill on an individual level – down to knives, pens and power cords.


But we know that bans work only on those who abide by the law. We should thus never deprive these same law-abiding citizens from the self-defense they need against those who will always be armed.

© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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