Gun advocates usually put down UK gun stats by saying “yeah, but their knife crime is through the roof”. So I looked up the numbers.
In 2011/12 there were 29,320 (top link, page 4) crimes involving knives and sharp instruments. 4,490 of those incidents resulted in a visit to the hospital (England only) and 200 resulted in a homicide.
In 2010/11 there were 11,870 firearm offences (over half were air weapons, and another quarter were imitation), 499 resulted in a visit to the hospital, and 60 resulted in death (England and Wales 50 + Scotland 2)
UK Adjusted for population/million (assuming 60m)
Knife crimes in the UK: 489/m incidents, 75/m hospitalisations, and 4/m deaths.
Gun crimes in the UK: 198/m incidents, 9/m hospitalisations, and 1/m deaths.
Total gun and knife crime together in the UK: 689/m incidents, 84/m hospitalisations, and 5/m deaths.
In 2011 there were 144,829 crimes involving knives and sharp instruments, (medical attention n/a) of which 1,694 resulted in death.
In 2011 there were 258,671 crimes involving firearms, (medical attention n/a) of which 8,583 resulted in death.
USA Adjusted for population/million (assuming 300m)
Knife crimes in the USA: 482/m incidents, and 6/m deaths
Gun crime in the USA: 863/m incidents, and 29/m deaths
Total gun and knife crime together in the USA: 1345/m incidents, and 35/m deaths
Comparison/million (UK v US)
Knife incidents (489 v 482) =
Knife deaths (5 v 6) =
Gun incidents (198 v 863) 4.3x
Gun deaths (1 v 29) 29x
Total incidents (689 v 1345) 1.9x
Total deaths (5 v 35) 7x
Why did I compare the two? Because of the sentence I hear being banded around by gun nuts when you talk about gun control in the UK, “yeah, but their knife crime is through the roof”. The sentence itself implies so much misinformation it’s not funny. Worst of all it asserts something that isn’t true (well, not compared to the USA), but the implied meaning is that owning a gun works as self defense, not only that, but that owning a gun lowers knife crime!
It’s something that the stats don’t reveal, in fact it tells us the exact opposite, that gun ownership has no effect on knife crime, The UK and USA have comparable rates (489/m v 482/m).
Then there is the second issue, in an incident with a knife you are 3 times less likely to die than in an incident with a gun. (482/6/m v 863/29/m)
But it’s all tied up in the propaganda about defense, that you are ‘playing the victim’ to not defend yourself. It’s a sentence that chastises people for being weak and not putting up a fight, but if you pull a gun on an assailant, then you are putting them in a kill or die situation and that’s a battle you may not win. The words ‘playing the victim’ are dangerously misleading because if defending yourself results in a higher likelihood that you die then that isn’t a very good defense. I’d rather ‘play the victim’ and live.
The point I’m making is that even when you add in knife crime, the USA still far outpaces the UK, guns are not protection from knives. Even if you got rid of guns from the USA and those crimes were replaced by knife crimes (which they wouldn’t, knives are more personal and put people off, guns are too easy to just stop thinking and squeeze a trigger) the survival rate would still increase. And isn’t that what’s important, that less people die.
This is not a liberal/conservative issue, this is a facts issue.
Guns are a false sense of security that only put you in more danger than they are meant to protect you from. The continued denial of the facts and promotion of the Defense Myth is only causing more needless deaths.