NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 27, 2005

Taking a cue from King Louis XIV of France, three Britons are proposing a ban on sharp, pointed kitchen knives. In a British Medical Journal article, the three hospital workers suggest banning pointed kitchen knives. They note that in 1669, to reduce violent crimes committed with knives, Louis passed a law demanding that the tips of all table and street knives be ground smooth.

In the United Kingdom, where citizens do not have the right to own, much less carry, firearms, violent crime is increasing. For example, figures from London show a 17.9 percent increase in violent crime from 2003 to 2004. Furthermore,

  • In the first two weeks of 2005 alone, 15 murders in United Kingdom were attributed to stabbings and 16 other non-fatal attacks -- but police officers and pathologists suggest that they are used in at least half of all cases.
  • Although people carry other weapons -- such as baseball bats, screwdrivers, and chains -- by far the most common weapons are knives.
  • U.K. government statistics show that 24 percent of 16 year old boys report carrying knives or other weapons and 19 percent admitting attacking someone with the intent to harm.

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 giving head teachers the power to search pupils for knives.

Source: Emma Hern, Will Glazebrook and Mike Beckett, "Reducing Knife Crime," British Medical Journal, May 28, 2005.

For BMJ text:


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