Doctors call for kitchen knife ban


Friday, May 27, 2005 Posted: 1347 GMT (2147 HKT)

Doctors say pointed knives owe more to tradition than culinary necessity.

LONDON, England (AP) -- Are there killers in your kitchen drawer?

Three emergency-room doctors called Friday for long, pointed kitchen knives to be banned in a bid to reduce the number of stabbings in Britain.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, three doctors from London's West Middlesex University Hospital said that at least half of stabbing cases involved kitchen knives. Long, pointed knives serve no useful purpose in kitchens, they argued.

"Many assaults are impulsive, often triggered by alcohol or misuse of other drugs, and the long pointed kitchen knife is an easily available potentially lethal weapon, particularly in the domestic setting," wrote Emma Hern, Will Glazebrook and Mike Beckett in an editorial for the journal.

"Government action to ban the sale of such knives would drastically reduce their availability over the course of a few years."

Knives are the most common murder weapon in Britain, where guns are difficult to obtain. Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has announced plans to make knives harder to buy and to raise the minimum age for ownership from 16 to 18.

The doctors said pointed knives were much more likely to penetrate deeply and cause serious injury than either blunt-nosed or short-bladed designs.

The doctors argued that the use of dagger-type pointed knives rather than the blunt-tipped variety owed more to tradition than culinary necessity. Diners haven't used knife tips to spear their food since forks were introduced in the 18th century, they said.

The authors said a survey of 10 chefs had confirmed their view.

"Some commented that a point is useful in the fine preparation of some meat and vegetables, but that this could be done with a short pointed knife (less than five centimeters (two inches) in length)," they wrote.

"None gave a reason why the long pointed knife was essential."