Only 'Schizophrenic Nerds' Kill People With Swords

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It's time to face facts: Americans are addicted to killing each other with swords. This compulsion has the potential to do even greater damage to the American economy in 2011 than widespread municipal bond defaults, if only because Cleveland's poor credit rating has yet to actually murder any small business owners. Slate's Daniel Engber has gone so far as to compile a psychological profile of the typical sword murderer. Some of them, it seems, are odd ducks. Writes Engber of the pointy weapon's specialized appeal:

It's the plaything of a deviant mind. A man with a sword has no interest in concealment and no hope of escape....A sword isn't sneaked to the scene of the crime; it's lifted from the mantel at the moment of need. Because, really, there's nothing more grandiose and theatrical than the vorpal blade. It's the weapon of dueling gentlemen and swashbuckling adventurers, of knights in armor and the horse lords of Rohan.

That is to say, the sword is the weapon of nerds. It's also the weapon of schizophrenics. And, most of all, it's the weapon of schizophrenic nerds.

Just like Twitter! Except instead of using it to save Conan, people use it to chop up relatives.

The archetypical sword murderer, for his part, is a 20- to 40-year-old white male who still lives with his parents. He's often a paranoid schizophrenic, and he often expresses himself by killing his mother or father...We know that parricides make up about 1.5 percent of all murders, and that more than half of those family killings involve some sort of edged weapon.

Engber believes only tougher regulation will lower the number of attacks, which could spell trouble for millions (billions?) of responsible sword-owning American oddballs.

Samurai-swordfights have become so common in the United Kingdom...that the government moved to ban the manufacture, sale, or import of Japanese-style replica swords in 2009. A similar ban in the United States might bring a small reduction in sword-based violence.

But before we start disarming the nerds, let's examine the unintended consequences: The most vulnerable and easily-picked-on people in the nation would be left without their primary means of self-defense.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.