School stabbing should not detract from gun control efforts

On Wednesday, 16-year-old Alex Hribal rampaged through the hallways of Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Pa. with two kitchen knives in hand and stabbed 21 of his fellow classmates and a security officer before being tackled to the ground by assistant principal Samuel King, according to Reuters. Though some have made the argument that this case negates the argument for gun control as there are clearly other lethal weapons, this conclusion fails to acknowledge that guns ultimately result in more casualties and that all cases of school violence highlight the need for increased security preparedness in schools.

Design by Julien Nicolai

Design by Julien Nicolai

Charged with four counts of attempted homicide, 21 counts of aggravated assault and one count of bringing a weapon to school property, Hribal is currently being held without bail at the Westmoreland County Juvenile Detention Center in Greensburg, Pa., according to CNN. Meanwhile, several of his fellow students are currently hospitalized, with one in critical condition and three others having undergone emergency surgery.

One of Hribal’s victims, Brett Hurt, suffered from a bruised lung as a result of a stab wound to the back. According to CNN, he is expected to be released this week.

What happened to Hurt and his other classmates was an unthinkable act of violence that no one should be exposed to. But, unlike the victims of similar acts of violence in which a gun was used, Hurt and his classmates survived.

Mitchell College Associate Professor Herb Nieburg told ABC News that knife attacks are indicative of mental illness and that such attacks, though meant to inflict pain, are ultimately not as effective as guns are in causing harm. Unlike the deliberate actions involved with aiming and shooting a firearm, the impulsivity of stabbing is more erratic.

“This is what we call a disorganized homicide attempt,” Nieburg said. “Someone who uses a knife is extremely angry and very out of control. It indicates they really wanted to inflict pain — it’s not as quick as a gun.”

Though the majority of Hribal’s victims were treated and are expected to be fine, not all of the students were as lucky. Of the 21 total victims, four of them were in critical condition as of Wednesday, one of whom was “eviscerated” and might not survive, according to CNN. To completely rule out the validity of the need for gun control based on the multitude of lethal weapons, however, fails to address the danger that weapons like guns still pose on school campuses. Had Hribal brought a gun to campus, it is likely that he would have been able to harm more students at a higher level of severity than he was able to with knives alone. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that someone would have been able to tackle him to the ground had he been armed with a firearm.

“Obviously one gun is one too many and one knife is one too many,” National School Safety and Security Services President Ken Trump told U.S. News. “But it’s just one additional threat that schools need to be prepared to manage.”

No one can argue with the fact that knives, like other weapons, can be lethal when in the wrong hands. The severity of what happened at Franklin Regional Senior High School should be treated with the same seriousness and urgency as the multitude of other school attacks that have occurred. This tragedy cannot and should not be used as an argument by those against gun control simply because other tools can be dangerous as well. If anything, it should only further what the entire gun control conversation has been about — ensuring the safety of our children and educators.


Yasmeen Serhan is a sophomore majoring in international relations. She is also the Editorial Director of the Daily Trojan. “Point/Counterpoint” runs Fridays.


  • IFortgang

    Why is it that cities across America with the strongest gun-control have the highest crime (i.e. Chicago, DC, etc…)? The Supreme Court has already ruled that the police have no duty to protect you, so unarmed citizens are just called victims in those places.

  • OIFVet06

    Gun prohibitionists are literally panicking that there are indeed other weapons that can be, and are being misused. And they are actually putting out the call to “stay the course” on more worthless gun control. How about more school security with armed school resource officers. How about not asking school teachers and staff to go up against armed assailants while they themselves are unarmed and vulnerable.

  • Ronald73

    “…some have made the argument that this case negates the argument for gun control as there are clearly other lethal weapons, this conclusion fails to acknowledge that guns ultimately result in more casualties…” Bogus. Guns are already “controlled” as are cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, pharmaceuticals, ladders, toys, and almost everything. How has that been working out? Kids still smoke, drink, and take pills and sometimes the public suffers the dire consequences. But if we’re concerned with deaths of children shouldn’t we be taking a hard look at swimming pools? Bad behavior is the real culprit but it’s already against the law to harm another person. Even police officers kill and injure innocent people. Should we take away the mace, pepper spray, batons, and guns from all the police because of the actions of a few miscreants?

  • MenotYou

    Of course it should not detract from gun control efforts. The fact that we have the lowest homicide rate in the last 100 years should make all talk of gun control a moot point.

    “highlight the need for increased security preparedness in schools.” Exactly. I don’t care why they do it. I don’t care how they do it. Lets focus on neutralizing the threat when it presents itself. When someone poses a threat to others the focus should be on how to negate the threat as quickly as possible.

  • Nate Prentice

    Way, way off.

    It should read, “The school stabbing should not detract us from our lack of civic and civil community and our lack of proper funding and support of mental health services.”

    As a fellow mental health professional, I’d like to inform the populace that I don’t think that a knife stabbing is necessarily more insane than a gun shooting. I think that associate professor is talking out of his hind quarters.

  • I like Pie

    Our children are mass-murdering each other. The elephant in the room.

    • Paladin

      Maybe we should ask, “Why is that?”, instead of waxing all emotional and knee-jerk, only to blindly support a socialist/marxist agenda that would enslave us all?

  • Scarlatti7

    Everything is an excuse for the gun ban people to pursue their vendetta against the law abiding citizenry.

  • John C Sell Jr

    And yet again the real weapon is ignored, the screwed up human, in favor of continuing to blame an inanimate object made of metal, plastic, and wood. The proposed logic says that if we remove tools, all evil will cease to exist. How very foolish. Evil existed in the hearts of man before guns and before swords. Treating the evil appropriately is the only answer.

  • John

    Knife violence should never detract from attacks on the Second Amendment, it just wouldn’t be right.

  • LogicPlease

    DailyTrojan or Daily Troll… I guess both with these garbage articles.

  • williamdiamon

    The author admits a “tackle” would probably have been impossible had the attacker been armed with a gun. Yet still suggests armed teachers are “ultimately going to result in more casualties”. At the same time calling for “more security preparedness”. ???
    The proper response, when someone is shooting at you is to shoot back. You will need a gun for this. It is also the only way to protect an innocent, If you care as much about people as you think you do. If you do not have a gun, call police. Why? Because they have a gun. / Reread paragraph until it sinks in.

    • Ronald73

      Yasmeen is a writer but that doesn’t make her an expert. And maybe she doesn’t know that guns are already highly regulated (infringed).

  • LieutenantCharlie

    Sigmund Freud said, “A Fear of Weapons is a Sign of Retarded Sexual and Emotional Maturity.” He must have been studying Liberal Democrats.

  • spencer60

    Sorry, if you are trying to make the argument that knives are somehow less deadly than handguns, you are wrong.

    Both stab wounds and pistol wounds in the same areas have the same mortality rates, with an overall mortality rate of 17% for both.

    A recent attack in China proved this, with over 20 stabbing deaths and over 100 people injured at a train station.

    The only real factor that determines the number of dead and injured is still the duration of the attack. That faster the attack is stopped, the lower the number of casualties.

    This is why the best way to secure schools, churches and other targets is to get rid of their ‘gun free zone’ image and have armed security present.

    Compare this attack with the recent on in CO. That attack was stopped within 90 second by an on-site sheriff’s deputy and only resulted in a single death, even though the attacker was far more heavily armed.

    We don’t need ‘gun control’ any more than we need ‘knife control’.

    We need to put in place effective protection for our schools, and that means having ‘good guys with guns’ there whenever the kids are present.

    • Sifaka

      Can you source the mortality rate statistic of guns/knifes, please?
      Thank you.

      • spencer60

        Look it up.

        • Sifaka

          I wanted to know your sources. I am aware google exists, but I can’t read your mind.

    • Ronald73

      Correct. Additionally, as one witness observed, the school hallways are frequently loud and filled with children screaming. The sound of gunfire would send them all running but screaming didn’t.

  • Feltre

    The gun control conversation has never been about the safety of our children. None of the anti-gun laws passed in Connecticut after Sandy Hook would have prevented Sandy Hook. Those laws, and every law that has been proposed over the past year have been about nothing other than infringing on the rights of law abiding gun owners in order to make the public feel like something was being done. The conversation in the media after the recent knife attack was much more grounded in mental health issues, as all of these attacks should have been. This most recent school tragedy is an opportunity to move away from focusing on the weapon and focusing on the true root cause of the problem.

  • Paladin

    “School stabbing should not detract from gun control efforts”

    Yes, we mustn’t let facts get in the way of our Agenda!