Murder and mayhem — fiction and fact


Quite some time ago, I began watching the British crime series, “Midsomer Murders.” Finally, I finished viewing all 22 seasons. Midsomer is a fictional county consisting of villages and rural areas whose per capita murder rate probably greatly exceeds that of Chicago, the murder capital of America. In fact, over the 22 seasons, 395 people in Midsomer have been murdered. This does not include the 164 attempted murders or suicides. Midsomer is a very dangerous place for the average Brit to live.

The detectives, being British, do not carry firearms or any other sort of weapon. The average copper has no weapons either, although the detectives, on rare occasions, do call in for armed police. Presumably, due to gun controls in Great Britain, that vast majority of murders in the series are not caused by firearms. There are a few exceptions: a rifle, a shotgun, an ancient pistol — but these deaths are rare.

But, thanks to the cleverness of British murderers and the evil that lurks in the heart of man (or woman, as the case may be), the absence of guns is no barrier to murder. There are, of course, the rash of murders from stabbings with a knife or sword, and even a pair of scissors. People are poisoned, boiled, hit on the head with hammers, garroted, hit by cars, shot with a bow and arrow, shot with a crossbow, killed with a pitchfork, drowned, electrocuted, smothered, strangled, and one poor person was murdered with a slide projector.

A surplus British army tank was used to run over one victim, one young woman was injected with pure nicotine, one poor man was beheaded by a guillotine, while one retired man’s wheelchair was sent, by remote control, smashing into a milk van. A deadly toxin from a frog was used to dispatch a woman, one man was stabbed with a bodkin (a huge needle), another man drowned in a cauldron of soup, and one Brit was sent to his reward by being suffocated with copious amounts of bee’s wax in his throat and nose.

One poor farmer is tied to a tree, slathered with truffle oil and eaten alive by a wild boar while, on another episode, a woman is crushed to death by a giant round of cheese. Others are pushed off buildings, thrown down a flight of stairs or out a window, and a man’s body is found floating in a huge tank of beer while another bloke is scalded to death. Against these innovative Brits, Hitler didn’t stand a chance.

All of which just goes to show that, if somebody wants somebody murdered, they will find a way. While “Midsomer Murders” is fiction (Thank Heaven for that!), the truth is that one who is determined to kill someone will find a way to do it. The memorable quote in “Jurassic Park” is that “Life will find a way.” Evil will find a way as well.

It is a simplistic view that if firearms were banned, murders wouldn’t happen. Cain killed Abel with a rock. Blunt objects that can be used to do away with someone are found everywhere. Almost anything can be used as a weapon by a determined or desperate person to kill someone, including a ball point pen.

There are over 393 million firearms in the United States, and this number only includes civilian-owned firearms, meaning it doesn’t count firearms in possession by the military, government agencies, or by law enforcement. There are more guns in America than there are people (less than 327 million people at the moment). With this number of guns, one might expect that carnage would be on every street corner and that every hamlet in America would be a “Midsomer.” But that isn’t happening.

In 2017, 14,542 people were killed with firearms. Yet, during that same period, 37,133 were killed in car wrecks. If one considers only rifles, including the so-called “assault rifles,” as a murder weapon, more people were killed by hammers and other blunt instruments and by knives or cutting instruments than by rifles. No one is seriously advocating banning cars, knives, or hammers.

The culprit is not the car, the knife, the hammer, or even the firearm. The culprit is the person with murder and mayhem in his or her heart. While many are clamoring for stricter gun laws, some of the same people are advocating defunding the police and not arresting and jailing people for crimes. It doesn’t take a member of the Mensa Society to understand that this approach has a predictable end.

Chicago, a city with strict gun laws, saw 3,561 shootings and 797 killed in 2021. That’s twice the number murdered in Midsomer, and it took Midsomer 22 years! More people were left dead last year than any other year in Chicago in 25 years. The city is so dangerous that the mayor of Chicago has surrounded herself with 71 armed specialty police whose sole duty is to make sure she doesn’t become a statistic in her own town. Average Chicagoans who can’t afford armed bodyguards are just out of luck.

People who legally own guns have them for hunting, for recreational target shooting, or for the protection of themselves, their homes, and their families. As one person said, “If legal gun owners were the problem, you’d know it by now.”

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King ( During the pandemic, the church is open at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays but is also live streaming at He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South ( He may contacted at]