Friday, May 27, 2005

What Would Crocodile Dundee Think?

By and large, American physicians tend to take a rather dim view of the medical literature generated in Europe (we tend to quibble about things that seem statistically impossible). However, the British medical literature tends to be more credible, and I have found, for example, the British Journal of Surgery to often contain articles of merit. This editorial from the British Medical Journal, however, is making me rethink that approach.

Violent crime in the United Kingdom is increasing; figures from London show a 17.9% increase from 2003 to 2004, and one easily accessible weapon used in many incidents is the kitchen knife...To tackle this increasing problem, various measures are being considered by the government, particularly targeting the adolescent age group. These include raising the minimum age for purchasing a knife from 16 to 18 years and allowing head teachers the power to search pupils for knives...Many assaults are impulsive, often triggered by alcohol or misuse of other drugs, and the long pointed kitchen knife is an easily available potentially lethal weapon particularly in the domestic setting. Government action to ban the sale of such knives would drastically reduce their availability over the course of a few years. In addition, such legislation would make it harder to justify carrying such knives and prosecution easier....The Home Office is looking for ways to reduce knife crime. We suggest that banning the sale of long pointed knives is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect. (emphasis is mine)
Oh. My. God. Just exactly what are we thinking? How can we continue to have these instruments of murder and mayhem in the kitchen, of all places? It would seem that we are all just a few drinks shy of the shower scene in Psycho.

But wait just a minute. Isn't England that utopian place that banned handguns in 1997 in order to curb violence? Unfortunately, violent criminals just didn't follow the playbook :
Crime rates in England have skyrocketed since the ban was enacted. According to economist John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute, the violent crime rate has risen 69 percent since 1996, with robbery rising 45 percent and murders rising 54 percent. This is even more alarming when you consider that from 1993 to 1997 armed robberies had fallen by 50 percent.
Well, isn't that special? Now that we know that the handgun ban is working so well, why not move on to that other menace to society, the kitchen knife! Well, you can have my Ginsu only when you can pry it from my cold, dead hands!

Hat tip to Sondra K!