London, England — As the gun control debate rages on in the United States, the U.K. is experiencing its own spate of violence despite its restrictions on weaponry. The Independent reported this week that there have been 29 fatal knife attacks in London this year with even more injured, noting that “[i]f the bloodshed continues at the same rate, more than 121 people will be stabbed to death in the capital by the end of the year, a dramatic 50 per cent increase on 2017.”
There is a stabbing roughly every 3 days.
Much of the bloodshed is a result of territorial gang disputes, and many of the victims are young.
Though knife attacks are on the rise, gun violence has also increased despite the country’s restrictive laws. In a separate article, the Independent cites a Sunday Times piece reporting that in February, for the first time, London’s murder rate surpassed New York City’s. London murders for March are also likely to surpass or equal New York’s. As the outlet noted this weekend:
“Fifteen people were murdered in the capital, against 14 in New York. Both cities have almost exactly the same population.
“London murders for March are also likely to exceed or equal New York’s. By late last night there had been 22 killings in the capital, according to the Metropolitan police, against 21 in the US city.”
That report also highlights that “[e]ight Londoners were murdered between March 14 and March 20 alone and the total number of London murders, even excluding victims of terrorism, has risen by 38% since 2014.”
“The Metropolitan police recorded 2,542 gun crime offences in 2017, the highest number in five years and 44% more than the 1,755 recorded in 2014, according to a report by the London assembly’s police and crime committee.”
Authorities blamed drug dealing (a practice driven to the black market by the U.K.’s continued war on drugs) and gang violence, as well as the availability of guns on the dark web.
According to the Sunday Times, “[i]ncluding January, London still has fewer murders [than New York City] so far this year — 46 against 55 — and its total in 2017 was also lower. But the gap has narrowed in recent years.”
The Independent reported last month that the London air ambulance, a charitable organization, now responds to more shootings and stabbings than road accidents. “Since its inception in 1989, road traffic collisions have been the biggest cause of call-outs but stabbings and shootings made up 31 per cent of the total in 2017 – up 12 per cent,” the outlet summarized.
There have been increases in knife and gun crime across England and Wales.
Whether violent crime is being committed with knives or guns, it appears the underlying causes of the conflicts must be addressed rather than simply legislating bans. As James Alan Fox, a leading criminologist and professor at Northeastern University recently observed while speaking on school shootings:
“The thing to remember is that these are extremely rare events, and no matter what you can come up with to prevent it, the shooter will have a workaround.”
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