Touting gun rights, Trump points finger at rise in stabbings in UK

WASHINGTON • Two months before he makes a controversial trip to London, US President Donald Trump compared a hospital in the UK capital to a "war zone", suggesting the country's anti-gun culture is contributing to a surge in stabbings.

"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," Mr Trump told the annual gathering of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Dallas last Friday without identifying the source of his information.

The hospital, which he did not name, had "blood all over the floors" from knife crime, he said.

"They say it's as bad as a military war-zone hospital," Mr Trump told the US pro-gun rights group.

"Knives, knives, knives. London hasn't been used to that. They're getting used to it. It's pretty tough."

Mr Trump is scheduled to visit the city on July 13 after several stop-starts since his inauguration. In January, he said he had "cancelled" a trip to formally open the new US embassy in London because he thought the building was "a bad deal".

The President's latest comments add fire to the verbal derision that has stoked public anger in Britain after he lambasted the government's response to terrorist attacks, criticised London Mayor Sadiq Khan and re-tweeted propaganda by a fringe far-right UK political group.

He also reprimanded Prime Minister Theresa May for condemning his re-tweets of Britain First, saying she should mind her own business.

In February, he took aim at the country's much-venerated National Health Service, saying it is "going broke and not working".

London has experienced a surge in violent crime this year, with 52 people killed in the first 100 days of 2018, according to the BBC. Murders in the city rose to 153 in the year to the end of March, from 101 the previous year, according to the Metropolitan Police.

But the magnitude of violent crime is still well below that of the United States, where there were an estimated 17,250 murders in 2016, according to data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Programme.

Mr Trump's speech in Dallas was his fourth in a row to the NRA's annual convention. The group spent US$30 million (S$40 million) in support of his 2016 campaign, lending him credibility with some conservatives.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 06, 2018, with the headline 'Touting gun rights, Trump points finger at rise in stabbings in UK'. Print Edition | Subscribe