Guns and kicking

Fights with kicks rather than punches are very much more likely to lead to serious injury or death, according to a pathologist I heard on TV the other day but can’t find a reference for. (Thank you, Google….) Anyway, with or without scholarly support, simple logic suggests that most of us can kick much harder than we can punch, because a kick engages the whole bodyweight. If you kick someone or stamp on them, there is a good chance you will kill them.

So, even in unarmed combat, the feet are deadlier weapons than the hands. The likelihood of death depends on the power of the weapon. To take up on points in the guns-and-crime blog, fights in which feet are used will be deadlier than those in which punches are traded. Where the protaganists have knives or guns, there is always more chance of death or serious injury.

So, the often-expressed argument that “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” falls down here. For a given level of aggression, the chance of death rises the easier the access to deadly weapons.

This isn’t the whole issue, of course. Every Swiss citizen is required to hold a gun. I doubt if the Swiss murder rate is even equal to the UK’s, let alone the USA’s. (Except, obviously, the murder rate in the English village, Midsomer Norton, which must put Baltimore in the shade) Baltimore has the highest murder rate in the USA (genuine thanks to Wikipedia ) but lower rates of non-fatal violent crime than the next highest contender in the murder sweepstakes, which is Detroit.

With no local knowledge of US cities- beyond what’s provided by the supreme TV show The Wire, of course – this is just speculation. Maybe guns are just easier to get hold of in Baltimore than Detroit? So any crime is more likely to end in a death?

There has got to be more to it, of course, given the Swiss example of a country with lots of guns and few murders. Social and cultural factors can provide an explanation. The social divisions in American cities are huge,. They are made more painful for those at the bottom of the racie and class heap by a context of values that regard those without money as worthless.

It’s common for ministers (BBC ) to blame hiphop music for the spread of gun crime in England. The glorification of guns and money in gangsta rap lyrics is indeed often ugly. However, it reflects values common in American society. These may be attractive to young men around the world who feel unmanned by the options open to them. However, it isn’t likely to influence fulfilled and optimistic young men, beyond a fantasy level. This is like blaming heavy metal bands for teenage suicides.

And in any case, it comes back to the avilability of guns. There are always dangerous and violent people. If you have the misfortune to come up against them, you had better hope they don’t have guns. (And that they don’t know about the feet thing either.)