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May 27, 2005 |

In the United States, battle lines have long been drawn over the issue of gun control. In Britain, however, where gun-related crime is not a significant problem, knife reform is suddenly a hot topic. An editorial in the British Medical Journal argues that the sale of "long, pointed kitchen knives" should be banned since "the knives are being used to stab people as well as roasts and the odd tin of Spam." The solution, which the authors of the essay suggest, is a law requiring knife manufacturers to redesign their products with rounded, blunt tips.

While some, like Wayne LaPierre of the N.R.A., looked on the proposal with amusement, others, like incredulous chefs, were more critical of the attempt to do away with a "tool of the trade." The researchers, however, are quite serious and have data to back up their argument. From 2003 to 2004, violent crime rose 18 percent in Britain and in the first two weeks of 2005, 15 killings and 16 non-fatal attacks involved stabbings. In fact, one of the daily tabloids (the Daily Express) reported that "Britain is in the grip of knives terror – third of murder victims are now stabbed to death." Whether the proposal is taken seriously remains to be seen.

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