A few years ago, in Dirt and Blood, we examined the lethality of weapons other than firearms. This week, we will return to that discussion, with a focus on knives. There simply isn’t much in regards to fists that was not covered in the original D&B (apart from this BBC article covering one-punch deaths), first of all. Secondly, knives have suddenly become a major topic of discussion in many ways. In London, crime involving knives surged in 2017 to its highest point in six years. Beyond that, however, is the rather concerning notion that knives have become the “weapon of choice” among terrorist groups, as a Canadian government report shows.
The purpose of the Run this week, in brief, is to examine the rise of the knife as a terrorist tool, it’s role in crime (particularly in areas with tight gun restrictions), and to demonstrate that an individual without a gun is not, in anyway, less of a threat to somebody.
1.) Lethality. An object is either lethal or it isn’t. A man armed with a brick is still a danger in a one-on-one situation. Massad Ayoob has an excellent piece from 2014 called “The Dangerous Myth of Hierarchy of Lethality” that beautifully lays out how a knife in many cases has an advantage over a firearm (never jams, doesn’t need ammo), and also goes into blunt impact weaponry. The Odyssey expands upon this, going into the mindset of a criminal. Specifically, the Odyssey’s Taylor Glowacki argues that, since a criminal intent on harm will find a way regardless, it is naive to assume that the lack of a firearm somehow makes the person less dangerous. (This is why releasing someone while banning them from owning firearms is itself contradictory; it acknowledges that the person is too dangerous to be released.) Taylor says in part:
Taking a look at other countries who have limited gun rights are also proof that reducing gun rights do not reduce the rate of violence, crime or shootings. Russia, for example has extremely strict regulations on owning a firearm and had a period of time when they were even banned, but yet they have a higher rate of homicide than the United States. In Russia there were about 21,000 homicides, and in the United States there were about 13,000 in a given year. Russia’s rate is almost twice that of the United States, and they have far less guns and gun access. The homicide rate, as well as the crime rate in the United States, is actually decreased from the past 10 years, and guns haven’t been restricted. With that being said, if crime rates are reducing and guns aren’t restricted, why restrict them now?
2.) Crime. Let us turn from that to the knife as a tool of criminals. The chief example about gun control and knife crime is almost always the United Kingdom, and frankly 2017 was no exception. Knife crime rose 23% in the country, with 37,443 offenses (compared to 6,694 gun crimes). 80 people in the country were killed due to stabbings.
The mass stabbing in China back in 2014, which saw 29 people killed and over 100 injured is another example, and in fact. knife attack statistics in China have been referred to as misleading and possibly based on falsified information.
3.) Terrorism. Beyond that, however, the knife has become a prime tool for terrorism, as a report from Canada’s public safety department shows. In the Executive Summary of Public Safety Canada’s report, the agency says:
We have witnessed an increase of low-sophistication, high-impact terrorist attacks around the world. In particular, we have seen the increased use of knives and vehicles in attacks, such as the attack that took place recently in Edmonton, in which five people were injured; and in New York, in which eight people were killed and several more seriously injured.
It should not be too much of a surprise, given the tendency of terrorists to search for less easily-detectable, and in some cases outright makeshift weaponry to achieve their goals. (We saw such makeshift weapons in the 2017 bombing in Manchester, England, discussed here in the Tactical Review “Shock Value.”)
We have discussed at length in the Midnight Run how terrorists, and frankly mass killers general seek to create maximum impact with minimal effort and an almost skeletal planning system.
Meanwhile, FOX News has a remarkable piece showing Islamic terror’s embrace of the knife as a primary tool, almost to the point of fetishization. Not only does the FOX bit discuss the knife as an object in terms of its tactical use, but also how songs have been written about it and even how it has become a popular baby name.
4.) Bottom line. The purpose of this week’s Run is not to instill some irrational paranoia, or to propose something ludicrous and impossible like banning knives. Rather, it is to continue the thesis of Dirt And Blood which is that anything can be used as a lethal weapon. The knife has rather obvious uses in modern life, but it also has uses as a lethal weapon. It is all dependent on the person using it. This update also shows, to be frank, that some of the major threats in the world today neither prefer nor need firearms to do incredible damage; and indeed rely upon less obvious forms of weaponry (and less obvious forms of conversion/recruitment) to achieve their ends.
Focusing on a single weapon for political reasons only succeeds in leaving a dangerous opponent with everything else.
Back to the newsroom next time.
Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.