British Medical Experts Campaign for Long, Pointy Knife Control
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Warning: Long, pointy knives may be hazardous to your health.
The authors of an editorial in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal have called for knife reform. The editorial, “Reducing knife crime: We need to ban the sale of long, pointed kitchen knives,” notes that the knives are being used to stab people as well as roasts and the odd tin of Spam.
The authors of the essay – Drs. Emma Hern, Will Glazebrook and Mike Beckett of the West Middlesex University Hospital in London – called for laws requiring knife manufacturers to redesign their wares with rounded, blunt tips.
The researchers noted that the rate of violent crime in Britain rose nearly 18 percent from 2003 to 2004, and that in the first two weeks of 2005, 15 killings and 16 nonfatal attacks involved stabbings. In an unusual move for a scholarly work, the researchers cited a January headline from The Daily Express, a London tabloid: “Britain is in the grip of knives terror – third of murder victims are now stabbed to death.” Dr. Hern said that “we came up with the idea and tossed it into the pot” to get people talking about crime reduction. “Whether it’s a sensible solution to this problem or not, I’m not sure.”
In the United States, where people are more likely to debate gun control than knife control, partisans on both sides sounded amused. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, asked, “Are they going to have everybody using plastic knives and forks and spoons in their own homes, like they do in airlines?”
Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which supports gun control, joked, “Can sharp stick control be far behind?” He said people in his movement were “envious” of England for having such problems. “In America, we can’t even come to an agreement that guns are dangerous and we should make them safer,” he said.
The authors of the editorial argued that the pointed tip is a vestigial feature from less mannered ages, when people used it to spear meat. They said that they interviewed 10 chefs in England, and that “none gave a reason why the long, pointed knife was essential,” though short, pointed knives were useful.
An American chef, however, disagreed with the proposal. “This is yet another sign of the coming apocalypse,” said Anthony Bourdain, the executive chef at Les Halles and the author of “Kitchen Confidential.”
A knife, he said, is a beloved tool of the trade, and not a thing to be shaped by bureaucrats. A chef’s relationship with his knives develops over decades of training and work, he said, adding, “Its weight, its shape – these are all extensions of our arms, and in many ways, our personalities.”
He compared the editorial to efforts to ban unpasteurized cheese. “Where there is no risk,” he said, “there is no pleasure.”
Note, we’re not talking about the usual sorts of “knife control” laws, like not letting kids buy them, or banning certain types of knives (well, I guess in a sense we are talking about banning certain kinds of knives), like switchblades, or gravity blades, or the latest in samurai sword attacks (which seem to be quite common if one does a google search) or things of that sort. This is more in the line of:
“Sharp, pointy objects shouldn’t be available to anyone.” said Sen. Lieberman, D-Conn., a key figure in the knife-control movement.