by Brian T. Lynch, MSW
A new study released by the O.K. Institute of Lake Woebegone, Minnesota, confirms that the rate of injury or death by swords continues to be exceeding rare in the 21st century. Once the leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults, both the incidents of sword play injury and sword related homicides remain at an all time low as a percentage of the population. In many US cities, even those with extraordinarily high homicide rates, the rate of sword related homicide was nearly zero between 2001 and 2012.
Researchers speculate that the low sword homicide rate may be the result of the present low rate of sword ownership in the United States. Less than one in one-hundred households currently own a sword and fewer than 1 person in 100,000 openly carry a sword. This is in stark contrast to the 18th Century when it is estimated that 1 out of every 20 men owned swords. Sword ownership rates may have been considerably higher in some urban areas where swords were openly carried in the streets for protection.
In their remarkable analysis, the researchers believe they have found a direct correlation between the decline of sword ownership and the decline in sword related deaths. This correlation remained robust even when compensating for variables such as sword safety training, blade size and such demographic differences as age, race, religion and economic status of the sword owners.
A spokesman at the O.K. Institute, speaking on behalf of the researchers, speculates that the results of this study could have practical implications for understanding the current high rate of gun violence in the United States. Further studies will be needed to confirme these results and to explore whether these findings can be generalized to the prevalence of violence by other types of lethal weapons.