On October 12, 2023, a French Muslim of Chechen origin walked into a high school in Arras, France, with a knife. He killed a teacher and wounded three other people before being arrested. It is believed the attack was in response to the Palestinian call for a bloody uprising around the world. He had been under surveillance by French authorities since summer on suspicion of Islamic radicalization. While this attack is considered terrorism, it is by no means an isolated incident. Three years earlier, a French teacher had been beheaded by a knife-wielding Chechen man.
Liberals like to point to Europe as evidence of how gun control prevents violent crime. They emphasize the relatively small number of crimes and terrorism involving guns and propose that if all guns were removed from the hands of Americans, as they have been from Europeans, the streets would be safe and free of crime.
What they do not mention is that Europe has a significant violent crime problem. Since getting guns is more difficult, the perpetrators simply use different weapons. And because European citizens are completely unarmed, they are helpless when they are attacked.
Weapons of Choice
There is no question that guns are more difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain in Europe. That doesn’t mean that bad guys don’t get guns. Just as in American cities, criminals have alternate sources to obtain guns. This is evidenced by the 2015 Paris concert attack that killed 137 young people and the 2017 attack in Utøya, Norway, that killed 77. Both were carried out with guns the attackers could not legally own.
But in general, guns are difficult to legally obtain in Europe. However, that hasn’t stopped violent attacks on unarmed citizens. To accomplish their goals of mayhem and murder, attackers have turned to other weapons, such as knives and vehicles.
Knife attacks are on the rise all across Europe. Practically, no one in the United States hears about these attacks, and even in Europe, they are often not reported in the media. But they occur with increasing frequency nonetheless.
On New Year’s Day 2023, two people were stabbed to death and seven wounded on a train in Germany. In June 2023, two adults and four children were injured in a stabbing in a city park in France. These are not isolated incidents. Between 2009 and 2019, knife-related crimes in Germany have increased by more than 900%, from around one a day to more than ten a day. There were 500 knife attacks in the first 45 days of 2019 alone. Statistics for more current years are difficult to locate.
German media and the government have tried to downplay knife crime, and reporting is suppressed in the news. In one case where an infant was decapitated, German police arrested a blogger for reporting the incident on his social media page. His crime was informing the public. Unfortunately, official statistics on the number of knife attacks in Germany are “unavailable.”
Britain, France, and Belgium are also suffering an epidemic of knife attacks. One attacker in Britain, Usman Khan, was out on the British version of parole after serving half of his previous sentence for terrorism when he killed two people and injured three more using a knife. It seems the United States isn’t the only country that releases violent criminals so they can offend again.
If we look at China, another repressive society where the citizenry is unarmed, the attacks are even more spectacular. In March 2014, more than 130 people in a train station in Kunming, China, were injured and at least 28 killed when 10 Muslims armed with swords and meat cleavers attacked them. There are also numerous accounts of knife attacks on kindergartens where multiple children have been killed. All these attacks have two things in common. The attackers used easily available household blades, and the victims were unarmed and unable to defend themselves.
Terrorists and criminals don’t even need guns or blades to commit murder. Automobiles and trucks are readily available and can be very deadly. In June 2017, terrorists rammed a crowd on London Bridge, killing eight and injuring 48 people. In the same year, a truck rammed a crowd in Stockholm, Sweden, killing four and injuring over a dozen. In 2020, over 60 people were injured in a ramming attack in western Germany.
More Harebrained Control Schemes
Unfortunately, the leadership of the very progressive governments in Europe are not any smarter than American Liberal politicians. Their “solution” to the knife attack epidemic has been to try to outlaw sharp pointy things. In other words, knife control.
Britain has been embroiled in a political battle since at least 2019. Physicians, Judges, lawmakers, and even the Church of England have called for bans on anything with a sharp point. This includes not only hunting and work knives but kitchen knives as well. This would tightly restrict or outlaw the possession of knives with sharp ends.
One member of Parliament took the already Ludacris idea a step further and proposed that “Every knife sold in the UK should have a GPS tracker fitted in the handle. It’s time we had a national database like we do with guns.”
It is unclear how many knife attacks have taken place in China over the years. But one thing that is clear is that efforts to regulate the purchase of knives or punish offenders have not met with much success.
Just as in Chicago and Detroit, the problem isn’t the instrument used to commit the crime. The problem is the person wielding it. Gun control is a proven failure in the US. It has done virtually nothing to reduce violent crime.
Likewise, knife control will do nothing in Europe. Prehistoric man was proficient in killing each other with rocks and clubs. Even disarmed, a strong, aggressive attacker will injure or kill a smaller or weaker person every time. The idea that violent crime and terrorism can be eliminated by banning all weapons from society is not only naïve but also foolish.
Vehicle attacks are even more difficult to address through the frantic craze to ban anything dangerous. So far, no one in Europe has proposed vehicle control.
Armed Citizens, Not Victims
It’s only natural to ask ourselves what the outcome might have been if at least some of the stabbing victims in Europe and China had been legally armed. If they had been allowed what we as Americans see as the God-given right to protect themselves.
Granted, many people are not aggressive by nature and would possibly have a difficult time defending themselves against a vicious assailant. Unarmed defense against a knife is a challenging skill that is only learned after many hours of training and practice. But even the mildest person would have a better chance against a knife-wielding opponent if they had a gun. Many of those shocking numbers of casualties would likely have been smaller if even one potential victim had been armed.
The Lesson for America
The utter lack of efficacy of gun control to reduce crime in our cities should be evidence enough for a rational person that gun control is not the answer to crime. The key term here is rational. Gun control advocates do not think rationally. They rely on emotion to drive their efforts and convert their allies.
The reality is that every time we see a photo of a bunch of smiling gun control advocates standing around a governor as they sign a new gun control bill into law, violent crime rates go up. But every time we see a story about a defensive gun use, at least one crime has been prevented, and the violent criminal involved is often taken off the street permanently.
Europe and China both provide a clear object lesson on what happens when the law-abiding civilian population is disarmed. The people become helpless victims of criminals, terrorists, and crazies. Ukraine and Israel take it a step further and provide a dreadful example of what happens when an invader or terrorist organization mounts an open attack, slaughtering unarmed civilians and taking hostages.
Americans have a very different mindset from Europeans. We are individualists who believe in our right to say what we feel, worship how we choose, and defend ourselves from attack. The answer to reducing violent crime is not to try to remove everything that can be used as a weapon from society. That would be impossible. The answer lies in addressing the cultural issues driving crime and getting criminals off the streets permanently.
As Americans, we must continue to fight for our right to defend ourselves and be prepared to do so.