A couple of weeks ago I read a pro-gun blog titled “The Idiocy of Gun Control: 3 Killed by a Knife-Wielding Attacker…” I didn’t think much of it at the time.
But since the devastating tragedy at Sandyhook Elementary School, I suspect that those of us who’ve never been personally touched by gun violence are giving gun control a whole lot more thought than ever before – particularly if frequenting the online social networks, now plastered with pro- and anti-gun memes.
Of the pro-gun memes and comments, the one you’re most likely to hear is along the lines of “If killers really want to kill, they’ll find a way – knives aren’t against the law.” And then, of course, there are all the statistics of how many people are killed in car accidents annually – as if a mode of transportation was in any way comparable to an instrument designed for killing – but that’s for a future article.
My contention is that, while knives are far more available than guns (in fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single household that doesn’t possess a knife), the fact is that guns kill far more people annually than knives. If you remove guns from the equation, the number of knife killings would have to increase tenfold to equal the number of gun killings.
According to the “Futures Without Violence” organization (formerly the Family Violence Prevention Fund), women who suffer from domestic violence are five times more likely to be murdered if there is a gun in the home. That’s a pretty striking statistic and flies in the face of claims that those who kill with guns would find another way to kill. In fact, that statistic almost makes it seem as though it’s the gun that’s creating the killer.
Since the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton Colorado, where 12 students and a teacher were killed, there have been an additional 25 publicized mass shootings (five or more people killed) in the United States, culminating with the most recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, made perhaps most horrific by the amount of very young victims – a total of 20 between the ages of six and seven.
Those mass shootings are as follows:
- Apr 1999 — Littleton, CO • 14 killed
- Jul 1999 — Atlanta, GA • 13 killed
- Sep 1999 — Fort Worth, TX • 7 killed
- Oct 2002 — Washington DC • 10 killed
- Aug 2003 — Chicago, IL • 6 killed
- Nov 2004 — Birchwood, WI • 6 killed
- Mar 2005 — Brookfield, WI • 7 killed
- Oct 2006 — Mines, PA • 5 killed
- Apr 2007 — Blacksburg, VA • 33 killed
- Dec 2007 — Omaha, NE • 9 killed
- Dec 2007 — Carnation, WA • 6 killed
- Feb 2008 — Chicago, IL • 5 killed
- Feb 2008 — DeKalb, IL • 5 killed
- Sep 2008 — Alger, WA • 6 killed
- Dec 2008 — Covina, CA • 9 killed
- Mar 2009 — Alabama • 10 killed
- Mar 2009 — North Carolina • 8 killed
- Mar 2009 — Santa Clara, CA • 6 killed
- Apr 2009 — Binghamton, NY • 13 killed
- Jul 2009 — TX Southern Univ. • 6 killed
- Nov 2009 — Fort Hood, TX • 13 killed
- Jan 2011 — Tuscon, AZ • 6 killed
- Jul 2012 — Aurora, CO • 12 killed
- Aug 2012 — Wisconsin • 6 killed
- Sep 2012 — Minneapolis, MN • 6 killed
- Dec 2012 — Newtown, CT • 28 killed
In all those mass shootings, the number killed reached a high of 33 (the Virginia Tech shootings). The average amount of people killed per mass shootings was 10.
Mass knifings (four or more people killed), on the other hand, are virtually nonexistent. There have purportedly been two in the U.S. (according to Spartan Cops). I’d hazard a guess that the amount of people killed in those mass stabbings was less than 10.
Killing with a knife requires the perpetrator to be in close contact with the victim. It’s highly doubtful that those involved in any of these shootings would have had the stomach to do what they did if not for the relatively easy and impersonal method of killing provided by guns (which is perhaps why many of these mass gun killers wear masks – to further separate themselves from the violence they are inflicting).
Of all the homicides in the U.S., approximately 70% are committed with firearms. From 1999-2010, the Center for Disease Control reports that 364,483 Americans were killed by guns in the U.S. — that averages out to approximately 30,000 gun fatalities per year (compared to less than 3,000 stabbing fatalities per year).
I collect knives. I also have a gun card and own a gun. I don’t know what the answer is.
What I do know is that I would trade away my right to own that gun in a heartbeat if it meant bringing back just one of those young precious lives in Newtown.
And I think it’s fair to say that more than one would’ve been spared but for the lax legislation and availability of ‘super guns’ — automatic assault weapons with high capacity clips. Let’s not trade away future young lives for our right to possess these.
And let’s refrain from talking about non sequiturs, such as knife violence, so that we can start finding solutions.