Brits expressed astonishment Saturday after President Donald Trump blasted London knife fights in his speech boosting gun ownership at the National Rifle Association convention. Britain’s homicide rate is a fraction of America’s.
Trump told the NRA convention in Dallas on Friday that a “once very prestigious” London hospital was “like a war zone for horrible stabbing wounds.” He said London has “unbelievably tough gun laws,” adding, “they don’t have guns; they have knives and instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital.”
He then stabbed the air several times, pretending to hold a knife, as he uttered, “Knives, knives, knives.”
London political leaders and physicians condemned Trump’s remarks and called any implication that guns would stem a troubling increase in knife violence outlandish.
“To suggest guns are part of the solution is ridiculous,” said surgeon Karim Brohi of the Royal London Hospital in a statement. “Gunshot wounds are at least twice as lethal as knife injuries and more difficult to repair.”
Britain effectively banned handgun ownership after a 1996 school shooting.
According to figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the murder rate in the U.S. is approximately five times higher than Britain’s. There were 4.9 intentional homicides per 100,000 people in 2015 in the U.S. and .90 per 100,000 in 2014 in Britain, according to the U.N. statistics.
“Trump lies on everything,” former British justice secretary Charlie Falconer said before contrasting the nations’ murder rates. He also said such comments hurt relations between the countries.
“Trump makes Londoners dislike him more, and the U.S. dislike London more,” he told The Guardian. “Trump gives the impression he couldn’t give a fig.”
Trauma surgeon Martin Griffiths of the Royal London Hospital complained recently about the increase in knife crime — which rose 21 percent last year in the U.K. — in a BBC Radio interview that was picked up by Breitbart. That was likely the source of Trump’s comments. At least 35 people were fatally stabbed in London by April of this year.
But despite the recent spike, London remains safe compared to a number American cities, the BBC recently reported. In 2017, London’s murder rate per 100,000 people was 1.2. New York City’s rate was nearly three times higher. Baltimore’s rate was more than 45 times higher than London’s, according to FBI data.
In a tweet Saturday, Griffiths indicated that Trump missed his point about London violence entirely with an animation showing the words “the point” floating over the head of a stick figure. He offered to invite Trump to “my (prestigious) hospital” to meet with London’s police commissioner and mayor to discuss the city’s success in reducing violence.
London comedy writer Robert Webb joked about his “war zone” city in a tweet.
Trump reportedly plans to visit London in July. He’s expected to be greeted with protests.
On Friday, Trump also managed to disgust the French by acting out the 2015 terror attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. He used his finger as an imaginary gun and said, “They took their time and gunned them down one by one. Boom! Come over here. Boom! Come over here. Boom.” He insisted armed civilians could have stopped the attack that killed a total of 130 people.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo blasted Trump’s comments as “contemptuous.” Former French president Francois Hollande called his remarks “shameful” and “obscene” in a tweet.
France’s Foreign Office said in a statement: “France expresses its firm disapproval of President Trump’s comments about the Paris attacks ... and demands that the memory of the victims be respected. France is proud to be a country where acquiring and carrying firearms is strictly regulated.”