In the past I have written about the risks associated with feral dogs. Currently, the town of Kenora Ontario is experiencing some difficulties with feral dogs. Having a pack of feral dogs circling your house is not something to take lightly.
When Knives Attack
The recent Calgary mass murder illustrates how people assess risk wrongly. Statistics Canada reports (in 2008) that one-third of homicides and attempted murders involved edged weapons. That is more than any other type of weapon. StatsCan also reported that edged weapons were used against six per cent of victims of violent crime while firearms were used against two per cent of victims. Yet most people and organisations dither over plans for mass shootings.
Knives are easy to obtain, easy to conceal, they don’t run out of ammunition, and they cut in any direction. No training is required and if you can move your hand with the knife in your grasp, then you can kill with it.
This type of crime occurs quite often. Here is a recent sampling:
- four people were stabbed in a Regina shopping mall
- student was stabbed at a Brampton, Ontario, high school
- four coworkers stabbed at a Toronto office by a man who was being fired
- two people killed and four wounded in a Loblaw’s warehouse stabbing attack
Of course the knee-jerk reaction will be to ban assault knives. Of course all prohibitions fail miserably and probably make the situation worse as happened with the ‘war on drugs’ and ‘gun control’. Some foolish individuals will no doubt say that the StatsCan figures prove that ‘gun control’ works and we now need ‘knife control’, no doubt a knife registry will follow.
In the Calgary case, the accused probably took the knife from the kitchen and then started his rampage. I’m sure registering their kitchen knives after getting a licence to buy them would have stopped this attack.
Whether it’s feral dogs or knife attacks, you have to measure the relative probability of the event occurring against the consequences of the event. We are hard wired to believe that we live in a safe world–if we weren’t, then we would never have ventured out of our caves to create the world we now live in. This is called the normalcy bias.
Normalcy Bias Vs. Risk
I am paid to respond to situations where the normalcy bias got the better of someone or to plan for situations that nobody wants to contemplate. Decades of experience has taught me that nobody wants to contemplate the low probability, high consequence events. Legislation and hand wringing won’t change this–planning, preparation, and training might. Unfortunately, the interest in preparation and training wanes quickly as memory of the event that spawned this dissipates, and thereby allowing the normalcy bias to reassert itself.