5 Ways Conservative Media Are Exploiting The Terrorist Attacks In Paris To Hype Misinformation

Right-wing media seized on the November 13 terror attacks in Paris to make at least five false or misleading claims about Syrian refugees, past statements from Hillary Clinton, President Obama's strategy against ISIS, the release of Guantanamo Bay detainees, and how guns in civilian hands could have supposedly changed the outcome of the attacks.

Contrary To Fearmongering About Refugee Policy, The U.S. Has An Exhaustive Screening System

Using Paris Attack To Question Obama On Gitmo Ignores Current Intelligence And Low Recidivism

When Obama Said ISIS Was “Contained,” He Was Referring To Geographic Containment

Hillary Clinton Did Not Call For Empathy For Terrorists In A 2014 Speech

There Is No Evidence Armed Civilians In Paris Could Have Stopped Heavily Armed Terrorist Gunmen

Paris Terrorist Attacks Kill More Than 100 People

Attacks In Paris Killed 129 People And Left Hundreds More Wounded. Multiple terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13 -- including shootings, explosions, and hostage-taking -- killed more than 100 people:

In the nearly simultaneous attacks on Friday night, the assailants targeted six sites, the deadliest being a massacre at a concert hall where at least 80 people were killed.

In addition to the 129 people killed in Paris, 352 were injured, at least 99 seriously, Molins said Saturday. Seven terrorists were killed, French officials have said. They all had assault rifles, Molins added. [CNN.com, 11/14/15]

Conservative Media Exploited The Attacks To Push At Least Five Misleading Claims

MYTH: Paris Terror Attacks Offer Evidence That Syrian Refugees Pose Danger To The U.S.

Fox's Bartiromo: There Are “Really Not Any Circumstances” To Vet Syrian Refugees Properly. Reporting on the Paris attacks during the November 16 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo fearmongered over letting in more Syrian refugees into the United States, claiming, “there's really not any circumstances where we can vet these people properly.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade agreed, saying the White House claim that there's a vetting system for refugees show the Obama administration is “not the voice of logic”:

MARIA BARTIROMO:Does this attack change the conversation in terms of policy? In terms of the presidential election?I mean, now the whole idea of taking in refugees is beginning to become a lot more up for debate than it was earlier. I mean, we don't know if this is actually changing the president's plan who -- President Obama has said he wants to take in the refugees. The issue is that there's really not any circumstances where we can vet these people properly. You don't have a Syrian government that can actually give you the right information about who the refugees really are and if they are who they say they are.


BRIAN KILMEADE: Well Maria, I'll tell you, you got it wrong because the White House says we have a very robust vetting procedure for these refugees. That is the voice of one. Not the voice of logic. So that is going to change the dynamic on the ground. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/16/15]

Conservative Commentator Mark Steyn: There Will Be “No Screening Process” In America For Refugees. Appearing on the November 16 edition of Fox & Friends, conservative commentator Mark Steyn claimed there is “going to be no screening process” for Syrian refugees in America:

STEVE DOOCY:[Obama] is on the side of refugees, though, because the White House made it clear over the weekend that the flow of refugees from that region, and some of them could be ISIS guys, going to continue.

MARK STEYN: Yeah, when I -- when you guys let me into your country, my lawyer said they look at it for six minutes, which means they don't have time to read the application, never mind check it. These guys are getting less than six minutes. As we just heard with this Saudi passport business, they're coming from a country where they don't even have viable records. Nobody knows if if these passports are genuine.

BRIAN KILMEADE: It's a robust screening process, Ben Rhodes said.

STEYN: Yeah, it's going to be no screening process. It's like these guys in Greece, they land, they walk into Europe, they can walk into Serbia, Macedonia, walk all the way to Germany, France, Belgium and do what they want there. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/16/15]

Fox's Ralph Peters: Don't Let Muslims Into The United States. Appearing on the November 16 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., Fox News strategic analyst Ralph Peters advocated for the U.S. to ban Muslim refugees from coming into the country, claiming that is how we “avoid importing Islamists terrorists into our country”:

STUART VARNEY: The topic this morning on many people's minds is whether or not we should allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into this country before the end of the year, and another 100,000 next year. We can't -- we don't know who they are. Should we let them in?

RALPH PETERS: Yeah, but that's, again, we need a little more granularity. There are real refugees among the people fleeing Syria and they're Christians. You want to avoid importing Islamists terrorists into our country? Don't let Muslims in, let the Saudis take them. I see a good argument for giving refuge to the Christians fleeing the Middle East, because we have stood by and done nothing while 2,000 years of Christian civilization has been systematically and gruesomely destroyed. [Fox Business Network, Varney & Co., 11/16/15]

Fox's Andrea Tantaros Asks “Whose Side” Is Obama On With Refugees. Fox host Andrea Tantaros, linking on Twitter to a National Review Online article on the Obama Administration's plan to accept Syrian refugees, wrote, “Whose side is he on?”:

[Twitter.com, 11/14/15]

FACT: U.S. Has One Of The Most Exhaustive Screening Systems For Refugees

Buzzfeed: U.S. Has “One Of The Most Robust Security Screening Processes In The World” For Refugees. Buzzfeed's Kyle Blaine noted the United States “has one of the most robust security screening processes in the world for potential refugees.” Noting the process takes “on average 18 to 24 months,” Blaine explained how Syrian refugees have to go through multiple steps to gain entrance into the country:

The U.S. has one of the most robust security screening processes in the world for potential refugees.

Many European countries will accept a refugee application based simply on a case file. The U.S. system works much differently.

Fewer than 2,000 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the United States since the start of the Syrian civil war. Though the Obama administration has the United States will accept 10,000 refugees in 2016, the complexity of the process takes on average 18 to 24 months.


To gain admittance into the United States a Syrian must clear all these steps:

· Multiple high-level security checks

· Biometric screening

· A mandatory interview with the Department of Homeland Security

· A medical screening

· A cultural orientation program (which consists of videos on housing, employment, education, and hygiene, among other topics)

Several of the checks only remain current for a certain period of time, but to qualify for entry into the United States, a potential refugee must have approved status for each step at the same time. [Buzzfeed, 11/14/15]

PolitiFact: Refugees Undergo Multiple Security Checks And Vetting Before Entering The U.S., Which Can Take Years. A November 15 PolitiFact article explained the refugee admissions process into the United States “can span two years” and involves numerous requirements including two security clearances, an in-person interview, approval by the Department of Homeland Security, and a medical screening, among others:

Let's begin with an overview of the refugee admissions process.

Before a refugee even faces U.S. vetting, he or she must first clear an eligibility hurdle. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees -- or occasionally a U.S. embassy or another NGO -- determines which refugees (about 1 percent) should be resettled through its own process, which can take four to 10 months.

As we noted in a previous fact-check, once a case is referred from the UNHCR to the United States, a refugee undergoes a security clearance check that could take several rounds, an in-person interview, approval by the Department of Homeland Security, medical screening, a match with a sponsor agency, “cultural orientation” classes, and one final security clearance. This all happens before a refugee ever gets onto American soil.


So how long does it take? Worldwide, about a year to 18 months, according to a State Department fact-sheet cited by the Bush campaign. A different page on the State Department website estimates an average time of 18 to 24 months.

For refugees from Syria and similar countries, however, the process can span two years, a spokesperson for the State Department told the Voice of America in September. Experts confirmed that two years is the average review duration for Syrian refugees, which means that some wait even longer. [PolitiFact, 11/15/15]

State Department: U.S. Refugee Screening Program Is Much Stricter Than Other Countries' Screenings. A State Department official who gave a background briefing on the mechanics of the United States' admission of refugees explained how comprehensive the process is compared to other countries, especially given the requirements for an in-person interview and extensive security checks, and said “refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States”:

So there are a number of processing requirements within the [U.S. Refugee Admissions Program] that cannot be waived, such as an in-person DHS interview, security checks, and a medical exam, including a TB test. And this is one way - one of the many ways in which our Refugee Resettlement Program differs from a lot of other countries' resettlement programs. A lot of other countries can do things like waive an in-person interview. They can take a case based on dossier. They do very few security checks in some cases. Those are not options that are available to us. So because of these very strict requirements that we have and because at any given time we're processing cases in 70 or more locations worldwide with a limited amount of resources, it currently takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months or even longer to process a case from referral or application to arrival in the United States.


All refugees undergo multiple security checks in order to be approved for U.S. resettlement. Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States. The screening includes involvement of the National Counterterrorism Center, NCTC; the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center; DHS; the Department of Defense; and other agencies. [U.S. Department of State, 9/11/15]

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Testimony: Syrian Refugee Applicants Face Even More Stringent Security Checks. Senate testimony from USCIS Refugee Affairs Division chief Barbara L. Stack and Matthew D. Emrich of USCIS' Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate explained that in addition to the standard security checks, Syrian refugee applicants face additional scrutiny:

In addition to the existing suite of biometric and biographic checks that are applied to refugees regardless of nationality, USCIS has instituted an additional layer of review for Syrian refugee applications, taking into account the myriad actors and dynamic nature of the conflict in Syria. Before being scheduled for interview by a USCIS officer in the field, Syrian cases are reviewed at USCIS headquarters by a Refugee Affairs Division officer. All cases that meet certain criteria are referred to the USCIS' Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) for additional review and research. FDNS conducts open-source and classified research on referred cases and synthesizes an assessment for use by the interviewing officer. This information provides case-specific context relating to country conditions and regional activity, and it is used by the interviewing officer to inform lines of inquiry related to the applicant's eligibility and credibility.

Throughout the review process of Syrian refugee applicants, FDNS engages with law enforcement and intelligence community members for assistance with identity verification, acquisition of additional information, or deconfliction to ensure USCIS activities will not adversely affect an ongoing law enforcement investigation. When FDNS identifies terrorism related information, it makes the appropriate nominations or enhancements to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), using standard interagency watchlisting protocols. Additionally, USCIS drafts and disseminates reports to U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies alerting the interagency to information that meets standing intelligence information requirements.

USCIS continues to work with DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and intelligence community members to identify options for new potential screening opportunities to enhance this already robust suite of checks. Finally, in addition to the checks that I have described, refugee applicants are subject to screening conducted by DHS colleagues at U.S. Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center-Passenger and the Transportation Security Administration's Secure Flight program prior to their admission to the United States, as is the case with all individuals traveling to the United States regardless of immigration program. [United States Senate, Senate Judiciary Committee, 10/1/15]

MYTH: The Release Of Detainees From Guantanamo Bay Could Be Connected To Paris Attacks By Leading To More Terror Threats

Fox's Hasselbeck Exploited The Attacks To Criticize Obama, Asking If “Now [Is] The Time To” Be Releasing Prisoners From Guantanamo Bay. On the November 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck spoke with Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) about the aftermath of the attacks in Paris. During the interview, Hasselbeck stated that “a lot of people feel as if [the Obama] administration is in denial” because five prisoners were set to be released from Guantanamo Bay two days after the attacks:

ELISABETH HASSELBECK (HOST): What's your feeling on this? Alot of people feel as if this administration is in denial. Just two days after the Paris bloodshed, Chairman, the Obama administration released five Gitmo detainees to the U.A.E. Is now the time to be doing something like this?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Absolutely not. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/16/15]

Fox's Heather Nauert Connected Transfer Of Detainees From Guantanamo Bay To Paris Attacks. Fox anchor Heather Nauert on the November 16 edition of Fox & Friends connected the terrorist attacks in Paris to the transfer of five Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United Arab Emirates:

HEATHER NAUERT: Five Yemeni detainees with suspected ties to Al Qaeda transferred out of Guantanamo Bay just days after the attacks in Paris. The Department of Defense announcing that they were sent to the United Arab Emirates. U.S. officials insisting a comprehensive review determined that they no longer pose a threat. 107 prisoners remain at Guantanamo Bay. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/16/15]

FACT: There Is No Credible Threat To The U.S. Following Paris Attacks And Only Few Former Guantanamo Detainees Return To Terrorism

White House: No “Credible Threats” To U.S. Following Attacks. The Huffington Post noted President Obama's deputy national security adviser for strategic communication Ben Rhodes told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week that “Our determination is there's not a specific, credible threat to the homeland at this time.” [The Huffington Post, 11/15/15]

AP: Recidivism Rate For Guantanamo Detainees Low, More Than 90 Percent Have Not Been Suspected Or Confirmed Of Hostile Activities After Release. The Associated Press noted former State Department Envoy for Closing Guantanamo Bay Clifford Sloan's explanation that “of the detainees transferred during this administration, more than 90 percent have not been suspected, much less confirmed, of committing any hostile activities after their release”:

Opponents of closing Guantanamo ... cite a 30 percent recidivism rate among former detainees. This assertion is deeply flawed. It combines those 'confirmed' of having engaged in hostile activities with those 'suspected.' Focusing on the 'confirmed' slashes the percentage nearly in half. Moreover, many of the 'confirmed' have been killed or recaptured.


Of the detainees transferred during this administration, more than 90 percent have not been suspected, much less confirmed, of committing any hostile activities after their release. The percentage of detainees who were transferred after the Obama-era review and then found to have engaged in terrorist or insurgent activities is 6.8 percent. While we want that number to be zero, that small percentage does not justify holding in perpetuity the overwhelming majority of detainees who do not subsequently engage in wrongdoing. [Associated Press, 1/14/15]

MYTH: Obama Has Not Condemned ISIS, Has No Strategy Against Them, And Underestimated Their Threat When He Said ISIS Is Contained

MSNBC's Scarborough: “I Don't Understand ... Why This President Still Feels Like ISIS Is Contained And Everything Is Okay.” On the November 16 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough mischaracterized President Obama's commentsmade November 12 before the terror attacksto ABC News tosuggest that the president believes “ISIS is contained and everything is okay”:

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Just a day before the Paris attacks ... President Obama told ABC's George Stephanoplous that ISIS had been -- quote -- contained.


JOE SCARBOROUGH: This is a president that has been underselling the threat --

BRZEZINSKI: I think his words on Friday were unfortunate.

SCARBOROUGH -- of ISIS to the world. His words Friday were unfortunate. His words during the 2012 campaign were unfortunate. The White House's words this weekend saying ISIS couldn't, they didn't have the capability to hit us here were unfortunate. I don't understand and millions of Americans don't understand and I guarantee you a lot of people in France don't understand why this president still feels like ISIS is contained and everything is okay. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 11/16/15]

Fox's Kilmeade: The President “Has No Plans To Do Anything Different” In The Fight Against ISIS. On the November 16 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed Obama “has no plans to do anything different” following the attacks in Paris:

BRIAN KILMEADE: The president does not feel that way. He wants to contain, he says it's long-term. And according to The New York Times today he has no plans to do anything different. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/16/15]

The Daily Caller: “Obama Declared ISIS Was 'Contained'” Hours Before The Attacks In Paris. The Daily Caller claimed that Obama told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in an interview that ISIS has been “contained.” The article asserted that Obama said this just hours before the attacks in Paris, which ISIS took credit for afterward:

President Obama declared ISIS was “contained” Friday morning, hours ahead of simultaneous attacks reportedly carried out by ISIS in Paris left at least 140 people dead.

In an interview with George Stephanopolous on “Good Morning America,” Obama asserted that ISIS was not gaining strength and that “we have contained them.”


If the Paris attacks are genuinely the work of ISIS-aligned militants, it may be the second major ISIS-related attack in the past few weeks to come outside of the Syria and Iraq region. The group has also taken credit for the destruction of Russia's Metrojet Flight 9268, which crashed in the Sinai two weeks ago, killing 224. [The Daily Caller, 11/13/15]

Townhall.com Columnist: Obama Was “Seated Somewhere In A Parallel Universe” When He Said ISIS Was “Contained And Controlled.” A November 16 column from Townhall.com colunmnist Susan Stamper Brown stated that Obama was “completely unaware of [ISIS's] expansion worldwide” during an interview with ABC when he claimed ISIS was “contained and controlled”:

Seated somewhere in a parallel universe the day before the attacks, President Obama told ABC News he believed ISIS was contained and controlled. Granted, that was prior to the Paris attacks, but it was as if he was completely unaware of the group's expansion worldwide with recent ISIS-related bombings in Beirut, the downed Russian passenger jet in Sinai, recent beheadings of women and a child in Afghanistan, and massacres in Pakistan, Iraq and Syria. [Townhall.com, 11/16/15]

Rush Limbaugh: Obama Gave “No Condemnation To Speak Of, Of ISIS” During Press Conference. After President Obama addressed the terror attacks in Paris, Rush Limbaugh falsely stated that Obama made “no condemnation to speak of,of ISIS” for the attacks in Paris:

RUSH LIMBAUGH: In this press conference today, Obama got animated, he got passionate, energetic when talking about that. When talking about ISIS, it was -- what's the word for it? It was impersonal, it was detached, it was as though he was talking theory and philosophy in the faculty lounge. He wasn't talking about specifics, and there was no condemnation to speak of, of ISIS. There was a acknowledgement that they're bad guys, but there was no condemnation, not like there was condemnation of these Republicans, who think it would be wise to keep Syrian refugees out of America right now. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/16/15]

FACT: Obama Has Condemned And Expanded Operations Against The Terrorist Group, And Said ISIS Was Physically Contained In A Location, Not In Their Capability To Carry Out Attacks

PolitiFact.com: Obama Was Speaking “Very Specifically” To The Expansion Of ISIS Within Iraq And Syria But “Critics” Have “Shorthanded” The Comment. A November 14 fact check from PolitiFact stated that Obama was not focusing on the ability of ISIS to carry out attacks in foreign nations when he said ISIS was “contained,” but ratherhewas focusing on the fact that ISIS is physically contained in certain areas of Syria and Iraq:

When Obama said “we have contained them,” it's within a plainly defined scope: ISIS's territorial ambitions in Iraq and Syria. This context is bolstered by the fact that Stephanopoulos asks Obama about the ground efforts in those two countries.

He wasn't saying, as critics have shorthanded, that ISIS no longer presents a threat -- an assertion that the Paris attacks would have negated. In fact, in the same interview, Obama acknowledged that ISIS might have surpassed al-Qaida as the greatest terror threat in the world, adding that they are constantly looking for “a crack in the system” to exploit to carry out attacks. “I think that one of the challenges of these international terrorist organizations is that they don't have to have a huge amount of personnel,” Obama said. [PolitiFact, 11/15/15]

NY Times: Obama “Is Looking To Do More Of What He Has Already Been Doing And To Do It Better.” A November 16 article from The New York Times described how Obama has “searched for ways to step up the war against the terrorist group.”The Times wrote that this includes carrying out more airstrikes and special forces raids among other things:

Even as Mr. Obama searched for ways to step up the war against the terrorist group, which has expanded its operations beyond its territory in Iraq and Syria, senior White House officials on Sunday again ruled out the introduction of substantial numbers of American ground troops.

The French airstrikes may have been a potent show of defiance, but it was not clear that they represented a major shift in the American coalition's overall strategy.


And so, senior administration officials said, Mr. Obama is looking to do more of what he has already been doing and to do it better. The possibilities, they said, include more airstrikes, Special Operations raids, assistance to local allies and attacks against Islamic State targets outside Syria and Iraq, like the strike in Libya over the weekend. [The New York Times, 11/16/15]

NY Times: Obama Condemned ISIS As "'The Face Of Evil'" In Response To Terrorist Attacks In Paris. The New York Times reported November 16 that president Obama condemned the terrorist group and expressed “his personal outrage ”at the 'terrible and sickening' Paris attacks by calling the Islamic State 'the face of evil,'":

President Obama declared on Monday that his strategy for defeating the Islamic State is working despite last week's horrific attacks in Paris, forcefully rejecting calls for escalating the use of military force in the Middle East or turning away Syrian refugees at home.


Pressed several times to explain his resistance to a broader war against the Islamic State, Mr. Obama twice chided reporters for asking the same question in slightly different ways.

Each time, he appeared to take pains to navigate a narrow path -- expressing his personal outrage at the “terrible and sickening” Paris attacks by calling the Islamic State “the face of evil,” while at the same time standing firm on a strategy that he acknowledged will take time to produce the results sought by the public. [The New York Times, 11/16/15]

MYTH: Hillary Clinton Wanted To Empathize With Terrorists

Fox's Hasselbeck: “Many People” Are Asking If We Want Leader Like Clinton Who “Wants To Empathize With Those Who Brought Death.” On the On the November 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck claimed Clinton in 2014 wanted to empathize with America's enemies, saying, “I think many Americans today are asking if we want a leader who wants to empathize with those that brought death and devastation like we just saw in Paris.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/16/15]

RedState Blogger: Clinton Said We Must “Empathize” With “Our Enemies.” RedState blogger Dana Pico criticized Clinton following the attacks, writing, “Remember when Mrs Clinton told us that we must 'empathize' with our enemies, we must 'respect' our enemies?” [RedState, 11/15/15]

FACT: Clinton Did Not Call For Empathizing With Terrorist Groups In 2014 Speech

Clinton: “Showing Respect Even For One's Enemies” Is One “Smart Power” Tool In Nonviolent Peace Process. Clinton, in a 2014 speech at Georgetown University, spoke on “security through inclusive leadership” in an event sponsored by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and the Institute for Inclusive Security. The discussion focused on “strategies to help women rise into leadership roles on security issues.” During the talk, Clinton discussed “smart power,” specifically describing a peace deal that two women brokered between rebels and the government of the Philippines. She was not pressing for empathy with terrorist groups (emphasis added):

CLINTON: Consider what has happened recently in the Philippines. Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines, has been locked in a 40-year conflict. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front was battling the government. More than 120,000 lives were lost. Hope for peace was all but gone when two strong women, Teresita Quintos Deles and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, took over the negotiations. They made inclusivity their mantra. And thanks greatly to their efforts, finally a peace was brokered in a historic deal.

This is what we call smart power, using every possible tool and partner to advance peace and security, leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one's enemies, trying to understand, and insofar as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view, helping to define the problems, determine the solutions -- that is what we believe in the 21st century will change, change the prospects for peace.

Yet in too many places, the promise of women's participation remains largely unfulfilled. [Hillary Clinton via Georgetown University, 12/3/14]

Clinton Speech Focused On Praising Women Who Broker Peace Through Coalition-Building. Clinton used her speech to underscore the evidence that women's participation in peace processes can be crucial for coalition-building and fostering compromise between sectarian groups, not terrorist sects (emphasis added):

CLINTON: So, we know when women contribute in making and keeping peace, entire societies enjoy better outcomes. We know when women participate in the peace processes, often-overlooked issues like human rights, individual justice, national reconciliation, economic renewal, are often brought to the forefront. Women leaders, it has been found, are good at building coalitions across ethnic and sectarian lines and speaking up for other marginalized groups. I saw that in Northern Ireland. I saw that in Central America. I saw that certainly in the Congo. I saw that in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

They act more as mediators to help foster compromise and to try to organize to create the changes they seek. So it's important to underscore this overriding fact: Women are not just victims of conflict. They are agents of peace and agents of change. [Hillary Clinton via Georgetown University, 12/3/14]

MYTH: Attacks Could Have Been Prevented If The French Had More Guns

Fox Business Network's Varney: If Somebody Had A Gun In The Paris Concert Hall “You Could Have Stopped It Fairly Quickly.” Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney asserted that a citizen with a handgun “could have stopped [the attack] fairly quickly”:

STUART VARNEY: A lot of people have been telling me this morning, if anybody had had a gun in that Paris concert hall, anybody around, you could have stopped it fairly quickly. But there's no such thing as handguns around in Paris. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 11/16/15]

Breitbart: “France's Strict Gun Controls ... Proved Impotent” During The Attacks. A November 14 article from Breitbart News asserted that France's “all-out gun bans for certain types of firearms” were “impotent against determined attackers.” The piece argued that “these laws create an uneven playing field, where the terrorist and criminal are armed, but law abiding citizens -- even hundreds of them at a time-are soft targets for lawless men with bad intentions”:

France's strict gun controls-including all-out gun bans on certain categories of firearms-proved impotent on November 13 as terrorists opened fire, killing more than 150 people and injuring 200 more.


France has all-out gun bans for certain types of firearms. For example, A Review of French Gun Laws (2012) shows that “ownership of fully automatic firearms [is prohibited] for civilians” under French gun control laws. Yet fully automatic weapons were the very kind used in the Charlie Hebdo attack.

And when it comes to semi-automatic firearms, a person has to go through the very kind of expanded background checks that President Obama and other gun control proponents would like to institute in the U.S. Those checks entail acquiring and maintaining “an active shooting club [membership]” and going to the range “at least three times a year.” They also include “seeing a doctor every year,” who declares one “physically and mentally capable of owning a firearm,” and filling out lots of paperwork.

Yet in the end, these gun controls appear as impotent against determined attackers as do gun-free zones in the United States. These laws create an uneven playing field, where the terrorist and criminal are armed, but law abiding citizens-even hundreds of them at a time-are soft targets for lawless men with bad intentions. [Breitbart News, 11/14/15]

Fox Contributor Newt Gingrich: Imagine If “10 Or 15 Citizens With Concealed Carry Permits” Were In The Theater That Was Attacked In Paris. In a tweet after the attacks in Paris, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich speculated that “10 or 15 citizens with concealed carry permits” may have changed the outcome in the theater where some of the attacks took place, concluding “we live in an age when evil men have to be killed by good people”:

[Twitter.com, 11/13/15]

Ann Coulter: “Too Bad There Were No Concealed Carry Permits” During The Attacks In Paris. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter wrote on Twitter that it's “too bad” there were no citizens with concealed carry permits present during the attacks:

[Twitter.com, 11/13/15]

FACT: More Guns Would Likely Not Have Stopped The Attacks

Washington Post's Wonkblog: There Is “Little Evidence That More Guns ... Would Do Much To Change The Outcome” Of The Attacks. A November 14 post from The Washington Post's Wonkblog debunked claims that “more guns ... would do much to change the outcome” of the attacks in Paris. The author pointed out a study that found “regular people are clumsy with firearms” and would not be sufficiently prepared to take on terrorists:

France is also something different in that gun deaths, like those endured in Paris, are extremely rare. The number of deaths from firearms was roughly 0.2 per 100,000 people in 2010, according to Gun Policy, a project at the University of Sydney. By comparison, it was close to 3 per 100,000 people in the United States.

There is also little evidence that more guns--especially in the possession of regular citizens--would do much to change the outcome when gun-bearing terrorists, bombs strapped to their chests, barrel through concert halls, sporting events, restaurants, and other public spaces.

In the United States, where the National Rifle Association has capitalized on an uptick in mass shootings to argue for putting guns in the hands of as many people as possible, most evidence suggests just the opposite: armed citizens either don't try to stop shooters, or fail when they do. Guns have also been shown to lead to more violence. And they're rarely used in self-defense.

Research has raised questions about whether regular people are helpful at all when in possession of a gun. A study, conducted earlier this year, showed that regular people are clumsy with firearms. Christopher Ingraham detailed the findings on Wonkblog:

They found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, people without firearms training performed poorly in the scenarios. They didn't take cover. They didn't attempt to issue commands to their assailants. Their trigger fingers were either too itchy -- they shot innocent bystanders or unarmed people, or not itchy enough -- they didn't shoot armed assailants until they were already being shot at.

In other words, it's not clear that more people with guns would have done anything other than get themselves killed, too. Especially given the military-grade firearms, like the Kalashnikov automatic rifles that have been flooding the black market in France, and were reportedly used by the terrorists in Friday's attack. [The Washington Post, 11/14/15]