Knife control

From the U.K. via the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies comes this study, ‘Knife Crime’: Ineffective reactions to a distracting problem? A Review of Evidence and Policy.

The PDF document is protected such that I can’t copy and paste but some hand typed excerpts are worth the effort:

Government and the police lack a coherent, evidence-based, reasoned strategy for dealing with knife carrying and knife-related offences. There is insufficient evidence that a knife amnesty or increased sentence length for carrying knives will decrease the level of knife use and carrying. Due to the easy availability of knives, there will always be opportunities to commit knife offences. Since it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to limit the availability of knives and knives are merely a tool used in violent crime, success in fighting knife usage will only come with success in dealing with the underlying causes of violence, fear and insecurity.

This is mostly correct and applies to firearms as well as knives. What I disagree with is the last few words. And it is these last few words that are critical to solving the problem. They have an incorrect problem statement. This shows, conclusively, they don’t understand the problem. If they don’t understand the problem then they can never solve it.

They believe they have a violence problem and they are attempting to make it more difficult to commit violence. This is totally wrong. They have a violent crime problem. The only solution (assuming we are talking about ordinary crime and not sometime like a rebellion that is labeled crime by the ruling class) to violent crime is violence, or the threat of violence, against the criminals. This is what the police do when they arrest someone. They use violence or the threat of violence to remove the criminal from the general population.

The “underlying causes of violence” are more numerous than “fear and insecurity” which also shows they don’t understand the problem. I’m shocked the author didn’t at least throw in “poverty”. But even then he would be leaving out the really big issue, evil in the hearts of men. It is only with this last issue can you explain such things as rape and extortion.

So a better problem statement is that they (and we) have violent crime problem for the most part because some people are evil. I will grant that as poverty (the definition of which is tenuous at best) increases crime tends to increase as well, but that is a topic for another day.

The solution becomes much more obvious with an appropriate problem statement. The dominant root cause is “some people are evil”. The problem can now be broken down into identification and “elimination” (either by incarceration or other more violent solutions) of the perpetrators or “persuading” the potential criminal to not act out their evil inclinations. And as Al Capone said when discussing persuasion methods, “You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” And this basic truth is what the people in the U.K. have overlooked with their faulty problem statement. Further compounding their problems is that they have disabled the most effective identification and persuasion mechanism available by disarming the victims of violent crime.

It may be that they will eventually figure out the error of their ways. For example the study points out the folly of the “knife amnesty” program as follows with the stereotypical British understatement:

According to the Home Office, at total of 89,864 knives were handed in during the national amnesty. Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker stated that this means “fewer knives on our streets” and greater security for everyone. Assuming that there are approximately 22 million households in England and Wales, each possessing a single kitchen knife, the amnesty has been successful in removing 0.0041 of the knives that might be used in crimes. Of course, most households contain many more than a single knife and it is barely worth considering the tens of thousands sitting in shops waiting to be purchased. As such, it is, at best, questionable whether this will result in a reduction in knife carrying and knife-related offences.

Further evidence that they might be getting a clue is this part of the conclusion:

At the moment the government seems to be planning action to a problem without knowing the full and true nature and extent of it and whilst overlooking the causes.

The author has a clue, but just barely. But really, there is Just One Question that needs to be asked.