KNIVES have become the number one weapon for murder in Australia, outstripping firearms and the use of sheer physical force. Criminologist Dr Samara McPhedran from Griffith University’s Violence Research and Prevention Program said knives were the most commonly used weapon in homicide cases in Australia.
“It would be fair to say knives are now more prevalent,” she said. Dr McPhedran said that the use of sheer physical force involving strangulation and beatings inflicted with fists and feet were still a common factor in homicide cases. And surprisingly, she disagrees with studies showing firearm-related homicides declining after the introduction of national gun laws following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
She said statistics showed firearm related homicides were already in decline in Australia from the 1980s.
She said this level of decline continued into and after homicidal maniac Martin Bryant slaughtered 35 people and wounded 23 using a semiautomatic .223 Colt carbine at Port Arthur.
Bryant was also in possession of a .308 calibre SLR battle rifle. Dr McPhedran said there were a number of knife-related studies pointing “in some instances to an association between the drug trade and violent perpetration and victimisation”.
Statistics from the National Homicide Monitoring Program show homicides had declined in Australia in the 25 years leading up to 2014 (when government funding for the monitoring program was cut). It found that from 1989-90 to 2013-14, stab wounds were the most common causes of death in homicide cases. In 2013-14 there were 86 knife homicides in Australia. Professor Lorraine Nazerolle from the University of Queensland said reports showed it was not uncommon for young people to carry knives.
She referenced a report titled Gang Membership and Knife Carrying, prepared for the UK government by Professor Susan McVie from Scotland’s Edinburgh University. Prof McVie found knife carrying was prevalent among younger males living a “risky lifestyle”. She said up to 30 per cent had admitted to having carried a knife. “Knife carrying is an integral part of a risky lifestyle that involves engaging in violent and nonviolent offending, associating with delinquent peers and dabbling in the murky world of drugs,” she said.
She said all of these things increased their risk of criminal victimisation and knives were carried primarily for defence. Dr McVie said her studies showed knife carriers could be characterised as coming from a background of poor parenting and social isolation. She said they suffered from low self-esteem and had a tendency for self-harm, often cutting themselves with the very knives they carried. “It is not uncommon for young people to carry a knife, particularly those at risk of victimisation,” Dr McVie said.
She said it was a fear of violent victimisation that motivated people to carry a knife. Dr Nazerolle said there was a campaign underway in London addressing the growing prevalence of knives used as weapons. Its message is simple, “London needs you alive. Don’t carry a knife”.
Shooters Union Australia is a not for profit organisation which represents thousands of firearms owners and users across Australia. We are actively involved in the political scene, lobbying against the unfair, unreasonable and unconstitutional vilification of firearms owners at every level of government. Our aim is to work towards a co-operative system of effective gun control, and together we are affecting positive change on firearm legislation in Australia. Help us to change the social dialogue around firearms, firearms ownership and the shooters themselves.
Join us to help make a difference, stop discrimination and create a system of fair policies that support and protect. Click here to learn more about the advantages of Shooters Union membership.
Please freely share our message on social media: