The United Kingdom has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world. So when the number of stabbings rose to unprecedented levels in 2018, the go-to “solution” proposed by local politicians and political advocates was to call for a “knife ban.”
But the restrictions imposed through legislation and the additional efforts put in place by London Mayor Sadiq Khan did nothing to deter crime. Now that London has seen at least 20 fatal stabbings in 2019 alone, British newspapers are asking for the expansion of policies proven inefficient while ignoring the root cause of this crisis.
Advocates say that fatal stabbings rose to levels only seen after the end of World War II, reaching 285 killings in the 12-month period ending in March 2018. Children seem to be particularly vulnerable, with UK’s health care system, the NHS, reporting a 93 percent rise in the number of minors being treated for knife wounds since 2014.
But according to the Independent, the newspaper calling for more government action in fighting the stabbing epidemic, most of offenders are young men between the ages of 18 and 24 and, most often than not, they are associated with gangs. The outlet also stated that the drug trade in the UK has expanded, helping to make knife violence a major problem.
Despite these numbers and the drug war association, the news outlet indicated that the solution to the stabbing crisis is to expand law enforcement’s stop-and-search powers in a “[s]ensitively and transparently administered” manner, whether or not this policy is inefficient and actually increases racial profiling and unnecessary harassment. In addition, the outlet calls for more law enforcement presence in schools and more public investment in youth services, regardless of the fact that it is young men who are not of school age carrying these attacks, not teens.
It’s almost as if facts didn’t matter.
If the news outlet was consistent with its own assessment, it should have at least addressed the drug war problem. That along with the fact that it is already difficult to purchase or carry knifes legally in the UK. Unfortunately, the publication advocated for police’s stop-and-search powers to be expanded and for kids to have their privacy further eroded instead.
If elected officials in the UK cared about bringing an end to the growing rates of both gun and knife-related violence, the go-to policy would be to dissolve the country’s restrictive weapon policies, bring an end to the war on drugs, and finally admit that gang violence exists because government-imposed restrictions on commerce create a black market where the alternative to open and peaceful competition is fear, intimidation, and murder.
In light of the Independent’s call for action, it’s obvious that none of these realistic approaches will be embraced any time soon.