The stabbing rampage at the Lone Star College-CyFair campus is still a fluid situation, with initial reports citing 14 injured and one suspect in custody. Undoubtedly, many will accuse me of jumping the gun, no pun intended, and politicizing a tragedy. I will concede this is partly true, but I am in no way the first to incorporate this mass attack into the gun control debate. For the record, while I was watching America Live on Fox News, Megyn Kelly made a comment alluding to the fact that this developing story would add a new dimension to the gun control debate and then cut to an interview with a Lone Star College student advocating for the ability to carry a firearm on campus. Which immediately made me think back to fellow PolicyMic pundit Jack Lee's article a few months ago where he noted, "this Lone Star College shooting turned out to be an individual who legally bought a gun, but then decided to break a few laws and shoot someone he didn't like."
In a broader sense, the discussion of the danger of knives versus firearms has been raised before as a way to illustrate how gun related crimes are portrayed as being over represented in contrast to knife attacks. Even during the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, half a world away, China was experiencing their own mass tragedy in a similar school setting. In a similar fashion to the Lone Star College stabbings, a man tore through a Chinese school, slashing whoever came across his path in a seemingly arbitrary manner.
Do not get me wrong, of course knives are dangerous. But the danger of a knife in the hands of a trained professional, when compared to a novice shooter with a firearm, barely equates. Furthermore, the nature of a firearm is vastly different from that of a knife. Here are the six major reasons why knives are nothing like firearms and why the connections drawn between these two weapons ultimately fail.
1. Skill Required for Successful Operation: The skill required to slash and hack through a crowd of people is nowhere near the relative ease of doing so with a firearm. The number of people stabbed in attacks like these are usually quite similar in quantity to that of a magazine. Frankly, it takes a lot less time to shoot someone than it does to stab them. In fact, multiple targets could be struck multiple times before the first few targets are even stabbed. Aiming into a crowd and pulling a trigger takes significantly less energy than running, confronting, and engaging individual targets with a knife. Furthermore, those who go on a shooting rampage quickly rack up a higher casualty and fatality count than those who go on a knife attack.
2. Range of Motion: The amount of force that accompanies the strike of a blade directly relates to the amount of damage it is capable of producing. If the arm used to swing the knife is immobilized or restrained, it merely becomes a potential hazard. However, with a firearms and the magic of gunpowder, anything in front of the bullet is fair game for a target.
3. A Knife Does Not Know Its Master: A sharp blade does not discriminate. The risk for the attacker to sustain incidental injuries from their own weapon grows exponentially when switching from a firearm to a knife. It is easier to disarm a person with a knife than it is to disarm a shooter. A few people could mob a restrain a person with a knife, whereas this feat is not so easy when a person has a firearm. In fact, this knife attack ended when the assailant was confronted and then restrained by a group of students.
4. Distance and Range of Possible Targets: The target of a knife attack has to be relatively close, at least within an arm's length, and at maximum a few lunging steps. Yes the attacker could try throwing knives, but then they are left defenseless when they have expended the few knives they had. That is to say they even landed a hit on their target, instead of what would likely happen, either missing on not making solid contact, leaving just a pissed-off target with your knife. Now, in terms of firearms, distance is really no issue. Some rifles are capable of kilometer or more distances, while handguns are practically perfect for hitting targets in a close quarters environment. After all, that is part of their respective purposes.
5. Purpose in Design: The knife has potentially limitless applicability in daily life, whereas the same cannot be said for a firearm. A doctor's scalpel, box cutter, or pocketknives have more purposes than a firearm. Make no mistake; either in terms of hunting or self-defense, guns are designed to kill. Marksmanship, collectors, and sport shooting are certainly other purposes, but that's where the utilitarian versatility of a firearm ends. Also, these traits are shared with knives, which again, only scratches the surface of their potential uses.
6. Just Look at History: War technology has always been about killing the enemy more effectively than they can kill you. The introduction of gunpowder into the battlefields of the world demonstrates this fatal and paramount difference. Everybody knows how it turns out for those who bring a knife to a gunfight. This is why early settlers of the Americas were able to wipe out the indigenous populations, tomahawks and bows and arrows stood no match to even the most primitive of firearms. Even as firearms technology advanced, the introduction of the machine gun again proved how new generations of firearms are ultimately more devastating in their effect.
Should people be free to own both firearms and knives in the United States? Yes. But the inherent danger attached to firearms, when used purposely for malice, outweigh any comparable effect that a knife may offer. I almost always have my pocketknife with me. I can use it as a screwdriver, to open boxes, and nearly any possibility I can imagine. Guns are not capable of achieving this universal utility. That is why the potential owners of firearms must face a higher level of scrutiny when attempting to own one. A weapon is not just a weapon; firearms are special. The Founding Fathers certainly knew this and that is why firearms got their own amendment. The point of this article is not that firearms do not serve enough of a purpose to justify lawful ownership, nor is it a critique on why people wish to own firearms in the first place. Rather, this outlines why knives have nothing compared to firearms when used in a rampage.