While browsing through Reddit today, I came across a news story about an 18-year-old actor in the upcoming Harry Potter movie who was fatally stabbed. Sad stuff, really. He was protecting his younger brother from some maniac with a knife who was stabbing a lot of people outside a bar. The article then went on about knife attack statistics and how much of a problem stabbing is in Britain.
That got me thinking. In modern times, Britain has restricted use of firearms since 1903, banned automatic weapons since the 1930s, and finally went all-out and banned handguns in 1997 after a brutal massacre the year before. As a result, shooting deaths have stayed fairly low. After all, if you make it impossible to get firearms legally, only people willing to break the law will be able to get them. That’s a reasonably small amount of the population (7% of the homicides committed in 2005 and 2006 involved guns). Even so, I am against gun control that gets too strict. To quote the overquoted: guns don’t kill, crazy people with guns do.
At any rate, the British don’t much have to worry about people getting shot by their neighbor. What they do have to worry about, though, is getting stabbed by their neighbor. Guns are far from being the only lethal objects around. The average person has access to plenty of dangerous things without having to get a gun. Steak knife? Check. Blowtorch? Check. Automobile? Double check.
It seems to me that banning guns doesn’t solve the underlying problem, which is, of course, people getting killed by other people. Banning knives wouldn’t help, either, since a person could use a sharpened screwdriver. Banning screwdrivers wouldn’t help because there’s always the last resort of bare hands. Problem: you has it.
Since I’m not a psychologist (even though I did take that animal psychology class in college), I won’t go into great detail, but from a layman’s point of view, it looks like it would be more productive to address the why of homicide, instead of the how. In other words, figure out and eliminate the cause of violent crime. It doesn’t really matter what people use to kill each other with. It matters that they kill each other in the first place. Of course, it’s a much larger undertaking to fix society than it is to take away society’s toys. But it can be done. After all, utopia is a realistic possibility, right? Right? Or am I preaching to the anarchist choir?