Ban knives? Murrysville school attack prompts gun debate

Family members hug in Murrysville, Pennsylvania following a knife attack at a local high school. Murrysville, Pennsylvania, families react to the mass stabbing at a local high school

On Wednesday 16-year-old Alex Hribal allegedly entered a high school near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and stabbed 21 of his classmates and a security guard. Although some of the injuries are serious, so far there have been no fatalities.

Given the recent history of school shootings in the US, it didn't take long before the incident became fuel for the ongoing debate over gun control. If you were wondering whether the chasm between the two sides on this issue had narrowed at all, it hasn't.

Start Quote

Guns aren't our problem, mentally ill people are”

End Quote Elizabeth Nelson Capitalist Preservation

The Pennsylvania attack proves that firearms aren't the problem, argue gun rights advocates. A disturbed individual is always capable of finding a weapon and causing violence.

"Jack the Ripper, OJ Simpson, Ted Bundy and the BTK killer never used a gun to subdue or killer their victims, and yet our administration would have us believe that guns are our enemy," writes Elizabeth Nelson of Capitalist Preservation blog. "Guns aren't our problem, mentally ill people are."

Dan Zimmerman on The Truth About Guns blog agrees:

As someone once said, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun (or a knife) is a good guy with a gun. Of course, as we all know, our schools are sterile, gun free zones where, with the occasional exception of a resource officer, guns are prohibited. Kinda like our military bases. How's that working out?

Alex Jones's site asks whether liberals will now start calling for a knife ban:

School shootings have resulted in demands from the Obama administration and Congress for laws scaling back the Second Amendment. Piers Morgan and other media figures have railed against the idea citizens have a right to own firearms.

Is it possible they will now move to restrict the use of knives and other sharp instruments? Will the government create a national cutlery database? Will there be a move to microstamp buck knives?

Ah yes, Piers Morgan - the Brit who until recently hosted a CNN talk show, where he was an outspoken proponent of gun control. As Salon's Elias Isquith documents, Morgan continues to be a lightning rod for gun boosters, who showered his Twitter feed with invective.

"America's lack of knife control is sickening, isn't it fella?" went a typical tweet.

Although Mr Morgan was largely silent, other pro-gun advocates framed their arguments along the lines of a comment made by one of the surgeons who operated on students injured during the attack.

Start Quote

Nobody could have outrun a bullet if the suspect had been armed with a gun”

End Quote Michael Daly The Daily Beast

"Even though many people were injured and injured severely, this would be a completely different scenario if a firearm was in place," Dr Juan Carlos Puyana said.

Michael Daly of the Daily Beast writes that President Barack Obama might be appearing at another mass shooting memorial service "if the mayhem at Franklin High had been perpetrated with a 9-mm pistol like the one the 2009 Fort Hood gunman used or the .45 calibre pistol the more recent shooter wielded."

"Nobody could have outrun a bullet if the suspect had been armed with a gun, but anybody who managed to stay outside the reach of the blades escaped injury," he writes.

The editors of the Hartford Courant compare the school shooting in nearby Newtown, Connecticut, and this week's incident in Pennsylvania:

Gun advocates frequently quote the old saw that "Guns don't kill people - people kill people," and argue that determined would-be attackers, if denied firearms, will find other weapons. As far as they go, those statements aren't untrue.

But look at the consequences: In Connecticut, 20 children and six educators died. In Pennsylvania, nearly two dozen people were attacked, and there were no deaths.

They conclude: "Pennsylvanians must ask themselves, as we and all Americans must: What if this student hadn't used a knife? What if he had wielded a gun?"

"Knife attacks happen in countries such as Japan where guns are hard to access, and they have been lethal," writes John Hopkins Prof Katherine Newman. "Just not as deadly as a loaded high-capacity automatic weapon that requires a split second to gun down dozens of people."

So this is where the gun debate stands in the US. A 16-year-old boy can run through a school, indiscriminately stabbing his fellow classmates, and it's either compelling evidence that gun control doesn't work - or exactly why it does.



This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Just a question, but it says he ran through the school indiscriminately stabbing fellow classmates, this would make you think he had less of an intention to kill them as opposed to injuring them. This is because if he had wanted to kill them, he could have killed them by using the knife differently. So what is the difference? If he had the intention to kill, nothing would have stopped him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    As others have pointed out, mental illness is the problem.
    So how come none of the bleeding hearts brigade are advocating better health care and treatment for the mentally ill?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    So reading this article its not the weapons, but the Homicidal americans that are the issue

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Of course it did not take the gun nuts very long to trot out their usual nonsense, I'm surprised that the "ban cars because they kill" chant has not begun. For a change it was not a gun used, if so we may be talking about 22 dead not 22 injured. Yes, gun control should still happen, but it won't in the US where gun deaths are a daily occurrence and the run of the mill are not even reported.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    This is common sense in civilized world, Knifes Vs Bullets here is 21 injuries Vs 21 fatalities, Period.


Page 3 of 3


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.