Are knife attacks more deadly than gun attacks?

An analysis by Bryan Finlay of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia found that in Australia, knife attacks are more deadly than gun attacks according to police reports. This should shock anyone who thinks guns are more dangerous than knives.

In Canada, knife attacks are as only slightly more deadly than gun attacks. This is based on an analysis of Statistics Canada data for the years 2006 through 2015. Combining homicide and attempted murder statistics shows that 42% of the attacks involving a firearm resulted in the death of the victim, while 44% of the attacks involving a knife resulted in the death of the victim.

Note that these comparisons are based on police reports, not medical reports. Florida professor Gary Kleck observes that an analysis of medical data found little difference in fatality rates between knife and gunshot wounds (among “penetrating wounds of the abdomen”), see Wilson and Sherman, Annals of Surgery, volume 153, pp. 639-649 (1961). For a thorough discussion of this study, see Kleck, Targeting Guns, p. 229.

An earlier analysis I did of Canadian police reports of non-deadly assaults, including attempted murder found that knife attacks resulted in more (and more serious) injuries than did gun attacks, but fewer deaths.

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