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News of the Day ... in Perspective


British doctors call for ban on kitchen knivess

Guns are banned in Britain, but violent crime is increasing. In London, there was a 17.9% increase from 2003 to 2004.

A headline in the Daily Express in January 2005 reads: “Britain in the grip of knives terror—third of murder victims are now stabbed to death.”

“Doctors say knives are too pointed,” reads the caption to a photograph of a kitchen knife in a BBC story on May 26 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4581871.stm).

UK government statistics show that 24% of 16-year-old boys report carrying knives or other weapons and 19% admit to attacking someone with an attempt to do harm.

The British Medical Journal surveyed 10 top chefs, who could think of no reason why long pointed knives were essential.

“Many assaults are impulsive, often triggered by alcohol or misuse of other drugs, and the long pointed kitchen knife is an easily available potentially lethal weapon particularly in the domestic setting. Government action to ban the sale of such knives would drastically reduce their availability over the course of a few years. In addition, such legislation would make it harder to justify carrying such knives and prosecution easier,” concludes an article in the BMJ (Hern E et al. BMJ 2005;330:1221-1222, see www.bmj.comwww/bmj.com.

The Home Office noted that it is already illegal to possess offensive weapons in a public place. The Association of Chief Police Officers said it was important to consider the practicalities of enforcement.

Additional information:

BMJ rapid responses: http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/330/7502/1221#responses.

Letter on England and gun control by Edgar Suter, Medical Sentinel November/December 2000.

Gun control and public health: http://www.aapsonline.org/press/medsentgun.htm.

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