Is Trump Right That an Armed Citizenry Could Have Stopped the Paris Massacre?


November 16, 2015 9:18am PST

Speaking to a rally in Texas the day after the Paris massacre took place, Donald Trump stated that the attack would have been “a much, much different situation” had French citizens been armed:

When you look at Paris, the toughest gun laws in the world, Paris. Nobody had guns but the bad guys. Nobody. Nobody had guns. And they were just shooting them one by one. You can say what you want. But if they had guns, if our people had guns, if they were allowed to carry, it would have been a much, much different situation.

That simple statement requires savvy listeners to ask two questions:

(1) Does Paris indeed have the world’s toughest gun laws?

(2) Would armed citizens have made a difference?

In answer to the first question, whether France’s gun laws are the “toughest” is open to question. The laws in North Korea are probably stricter. Having said that, France does have very strict gun laws. Subject to limited exemptions, France prohibits private possession of handguns and strictly limits private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons. While criminals such as Islamic terrorists are unconcerned with these restrictions, law-abiding citizens have allowed the French government to disarm them. Trump was therefore correct to say that French citizens were sitting, unarmed ducks.

In answer to the second question, Trump is probably correct about that too – the outcome would have been much different if French citizens could be armed. Given that the killers were using bombs, grenades, and Kalashnikov AK-47s, which can fire 40 rounds per minute in semi-automatic mode and and 100 rounds per minute in fully automatic mode, some Parisians were definitely going to die once the attack started.

However, when it came to the shooting in the Bataclan Theater, which accounted for the greatest number of casualties, there is no doubt that had there been several lawfully armed citizens in the theater (even one or two could have made a difference), the armed citizens could have taken out or at least slowed down the shooters. As it is, the people trapped in the theater had to wait until the French police, armed with and using guns, came to their rescue.

When it comes to mass shootings, there are only two types of stories:

(1) Stories about successful mass shooters in a gun free zone (e.g., at Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi) who were able to effect terrible carnage because they did not face any opposition. These are the stories that the media wallows in and uses to advance a gun control agenda.

(2) Stories about unsuccessful mass shooters (e.g., in a shopping mall or at NRA headquarters) who failed in their objective because an armed citizen quickly neutralized them. In the latter situation, there are almost always several casualties, but never enough to excite the mainstream media to report seriously about the abortive mass shooting, or the benefits of legally armed citizens.

What happened in Paris is an object lesson to the West and one from which we must learn if we hope to survive. One of those lessons, which Donald Trump highlighted, is that an armed citizenry is the single best defense against armed terrorists.


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