My colleague, Kira Davis, reported on a story earlier today about a stabbing spree that occurred in California, killing four people and injuring two. If a gun was a weapon of choice here, this would classify as a mass shooting, but due to it being a knife, it won’t get a quarter of the attention.

I’m going to cut straight to the point here and address the argument that usually arises when this point is made.

“Brandon, a gun will make it way easier to kill people than a knife. More people would have died if the killer had a gun,” is usually the comeback I get after noting that a killer will kill whether he has a gun or not.

And they’re not wrong. Guns make it far easier to kill people than using knives.

When it comes to these stories, though, there’s a complete disregard for how guns play a part in the lives of the law-abiding. When we see a complete absence of firearms in a society, we see that the violent suddenly have an advantage. To see this, we need only look to London.

The United Kingdom has oppressive restrictions on firearms to the point where they might as well be completely banned. They did this in order to make the populace safer, but the exact opposite happened. London’s knife crime skyrocketed with the best use of self-defense now out of reach.

It skyrocketed so high that last year, London’s murder rate surpassed New York, with knives being the favored weapon. As a result, the U.K. has tried to launch cringe-worthy campaigns to dissuade knife crime and even asked private citizens to give up their knives, including “knife bins” where you can dispose of your cutlery. In one case, at least, these knife bins ended up being a gift to violent criminals.

All of this is, of course, assinine, as it just encourages the law-abiding to further make themselves vulnerable to violent criminals. London has since seen a year on year 50 percent rise in knife crime. Regardless, you have U.K. authorities patting themselves on the back and proudly promoting the fact that they confiscated honing rods and pliers, which aren’t even knives but are being considered weapons.

It’s easier to kill more people with a gun, but people with guns are far less brave about using them if they’re unsure who else has a gun in the vicinity. This is why those who tend to commit mass murder do so in places that are “gun-free zones” or areas where there’s less likely to be a gun to threaten them in return.

With knives, the aggressor is going to have the advantage. He’s already prone to violence while most peaceful people aren’t. In a knife fight, the bad guy may very well win here. It’s hard to miss with a knife too. Knife fights aren’t like anything you see in the movies with people looking for openings for jabs and slashes. It’s quick, brutal, chaotic, and painful.

A gun, however, changes things a bit. Missing, especially in the heat of the moment, is more likely, especially if the target is moving. With a gun, you’re not relying on strength and brutality. It requires finesse and a measure of calm. You’re trying to put a small chunk of metal into a distant target. Speed is still a great asset, but chaotic speed won’t work here. It has to include precision and discipline.

Villains in this situation are on a more even playing field with their would-be victims. Even if they do get the jump on a couple of people and shoot them, a person wielding a gun nearby may be all it takes to stop them without having to risk his person in a physical confrontation like you would a knife fight.

This is especially great for women. In fact, earlier I wrote a story about a clearly trained 14-year-old girl who defended her home with a gun from burglars. If all she had was a knife, it’s far more likely that she would have been overpowered, and possibly suffered great harm as a result.

According to CDC studies, people utilize guns for the defense about as much if not far more often than they do offensively. Guns aren’t only great to use when you’re getting shot at, they tend to stop violence from happening in the first place. The threat of a firearm is far more worrisome than someone physically confronting you. Dealing death at a distance puts far less stress on the defender than having to risk it all in a physical confrontation.

London is proof positive of this. Violent criminals utilize knives so much that they out-murder the most populated city in America that doesn’t have the restrictions the U.K. does when it comes to firearms.

Does a gun make it easier to kill more people quickly? Yes. It also stops killers from killing quickly too, and that goes undiscussed. Guns are so effective at stopping killers that in their absence, killers kill more. Mass shootings are terrible and horrific in the sudden loss of life, but compared to the overall murder rate that happens without guns, I vote to keep the firearms around.