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President Donald Trump sparked an uproar across the Atlantic after he suggested that London’s knife problem is worse than gun violence in America and that France’s strict gun laws got in the way of a faster end to the Paris terror attacks of 2015.
Trump was speaking to a National Rifle Association gathering in Dallas Friday when he pointed to reports that stabbings had turned one London doctor’s emergency room into a “war zone.”
“I recently read a story that in London, which has unbelievably tough gun laws, a once very prestigious hospital right in the middle is like a war zone for horrible stabbing wounds,” said Trump, who is scheduled to make his first presidential visit to the U.K. on July 13. “They don’t have guns. They have knives, and instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital.”
Those British reports last month followed headlines stating that London’s murder rate had surpassed that of New York. However, multiple analyses have since debunked that claim, noting that New York saw 292 murders last year, while London reported 130. The cities have similar population sizes.
Stabbings in the British capital have been on the increase this year. But Labour Party lawmaker Sarah Jones tweeted at Trump, “U.K. knife crime nowhere near your off-the-scale gun deaths.”
The surgeon who made the “war zone” remark, Dr. Martin Griffiths or Royal London Hospital, didn’t endorse Trump’s comments, either. He tweeted that he’s “happy to invite Mr. Trump” to visit his hospital, meet with London’s mayor and talk to the city’s chief of police about the reality of violence there.
The director of London’s major trauma system, Dr. Karim Brohi, said in a statement that knife violence is indeed “a serious issue for London.”
But Brohi, a fellow Royal London Hospital surgeon, stated, “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.”
Trump also said at the NRA convention that “it would have been a whole different story” if a legally armed vigilante was present during the automatic weapons attack at the Bataclan theater in Paris in November of 2015. Eighty-nine people were gunned down at the venue.
France does not recognize a right to bear arms.
The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs countered the president’s remarks by stating, essentially, that its overall low rate of gun violence proves firearm restrictions work.