President Donald Trump told the NRA convention on Friday that knife crime in London has gotten so bad, one hospital was like “war zone.” But the doctor who may have inspired that comment says the President missed the point entirely.
FBI crime data also shows London had a lower murder rate than every major American city in 2017 – in most cases, far lower.
Dr. Martin Griffiths, a trauma surgeon at London’s Barts Health NHS Trust, in April said colleagues who had served in the military likened the hospital’s daily case load — including an influx of children who were victims of violent crime — to that seen at Camp Bastion Hospital, in Afghanistan.
Trump appeared to repurpose that comment while speaking to 8,000 NRA members in Dallas on Friday, referring to the prevalence of knife violence in the U.K., despite the nation’s strict gun laws. Most guns were banned there in 1997.
“They don’t have guns. They have knives and instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital,” Trump said. “They say it’s as bad as a military war zone hospital … knives, knives, knives. London hasn’t been used to that. They’re getting used to that. It’s pretty tough.”
Shortly after Trump’s speech, Griffiths tweeted his disapproval. “Happy to invite Mr Trump to my (prestigious) hospital to meet with our mayor and police commissioner to discuss our successes in violence reduction in London,” he wrote.
Dr. Karim Brohi, a trauma surgeon at the Royal London Hospital and the director of London’s major trauma system, also said in a statement Saturday that, while knife violence is a serious issue in London, “to suggest guns are part of the solution is ridiculous. Gunshot wounds are at least twice as lethal as knife injuries and more difficult to repair.”
It is true, however, that London has seen a recent spike in knife-related crimes. Thirty-one of the 47 murders committed in London this year, as of early April, used knives, Reuters reported. That spike in knife violence has led to reports that London’s murder rate now outpaces that of New York City, a city of similar population — and, as Reuters reported, London did see more homicides than New York in both February and March of this year.
But despite the recent spike, the BBC notes that London remains safe compared to American cities. In 2017, London’s murder rate per 100,000 people was 1.2. New York City’s rate was nearly three times higher, at 3.4. Baltimore, the deadliest American city in 2017, had a murder rate more than 45 times higher than London’s, according to FBI data. San Diego, the big city with the lowest murder rate in the U.S., still had 2.2 murders per 100,000 people, according to an analysis from USA Today.
Data also suggests that, while U.K. homicide rates have risen over the past four years, they are still well below rates from decades earlier.
All the same, the U.K. has recently made efforts to curb knife violence, and forbids anyone from carrying a knife greater than three inches long in public “without a good reason.” In April, after the statistics comparing London and New York’s homicide rates were publicized, London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that, “There is never a reason to carry a knife. Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law.”