The Next European Fad: Knife Control?

What happens when a society bans guns, and then the crime wave comes with knives? Is knife control next? Friday’s Washington Post suggests the answer is yes in Great Britain.

We at MRC saw knife-control writing on the wall many years ago. In 1990, a Utah man was stabbed in New York, and we saw this quote in the Post, from then-reporter Michael Specter: "The slaying, and those that preceded it and will follow it, certainly will intensify cries for more police and harsher penalties for criminals. But as long as the type of knife used to kill Watkins is sold in half of the variety stores in Times Square, it will be difficult to recruit enough police to erase this crime wave."

Post reporters Kevin Jordan and Jill Colvin suggested Britain’s crime wave is showing that mentality is breaking out again:

Knife crime among young people has sparked a widespread debate in recent weeks in Britain, where police say they have seen "a worrying trend" toward more severe knife attacks involving younger attackers and victims.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Thursday announced a crackdown on teenagers carrying knives, saying that those as young as 16 will be prosecuted for knife possession on the first offense. Previously, anyone younger than 18 generally received only a warning.

"Young people need to understand that carrying knives doesn't protect you, it does the opposite -- it increases the danger for all of us, destroys young lives and ruins families," Brown said after meeting with top police and government officials at his 10 Downing Street office. "Recent tragic events have reminded us of that."

In a country where almost all guns are illegal, police say knives are the most popular weapons carried by youths in major cities from London to Glasgow. A police stop-and-search campaign in London last month found that about 5 percent of the 4,200 youths randomly checked were carrying knives.

The Post story doesn't contain any rebuttal from the Conservatives, if they have any Members of Parliament who aren't gun-control advocates. Instead, the Post only found more liberal opinion:

[Academic Enver] Solomon said the problem was rooted in factors such as poor educational achievement and a lack of social services for many children.

On Thursday, some youth workers said Brown's initiatives were insufficient. "If the answer was to lock up more young people, then we would have solved the problem years ago," David Chaytor of the youth advocacy group Rainer told BBC Radio.

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