Fox News host Andrea Tantaros bizarrely used the thwarted terror attack on a train in France to criticize the “very strict” gun laws in that country, ignoring the fact that French laws had nothing to do with the suspect's attempted attack or the successful efforts by unarmed passengers to stop him.
On August 21, two American service members and several other passengers on a crowded, high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris confronted and overpowered a gunman as he allegedly prepared to open fire with an AK-47 assault weapon. According to French authorities, the passengers who stopped the suspected terrorist attack saved many lives with their actions.
During the August 24 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Andrea Tantaros used the incident as an opportunity to criticize gun laws in France. Tantaros said, “The same problems that they have over there are major debates over here. So in France, gun control, very strict laws.”
Tantaros' attempt to connect the train attack to France's gun laws makes no sense because nothing happened because of, or in spite, any law. While it's true that guns are more regulated in France than they are in the United States, no French law prevented unarmed passengers from subduing the alleged gunman. Furthermore, the suspect's weapons were reportedly smuggled on board at the train's point of origin, which was the Netherlands, not France.
The fact that the passengers who stopped the attack were unarmed directly contradicts the oft-heard talking point from right-wing media and the National Rifle Association that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” In fact, according to an analysis of mass public shootings in the United States over a 30-year period, ordinary armed civilians have not stopped any public attacks but unarmed bystanders have.
For example, in the 2011 public shooting in Tucson, Arizona that left six people dead and grievously wounded then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), the gunman was overpowered by bystanders when he stopped to reload. (A bystander carrying a concealed gun later acknowledged that he almost mistakenly shot one of the people who disarmed the gunman.)
To bolster her argument, Fox's Tantaros also mischaracterized the thwarted attack last May on a Garland, Texas cartoon-drawing contest of the Prophet Mohammad. Tantaros said: “What happens when there are not Americans there to take down these terrorists? I mean the same thing happened in Texas, in Garland, Texas, it was citizens in Texas who took down what could have been two men who took out 300 people, they could have potentially taken down.”
Tantaros' exploitation of the train attack to criticize France's gun laws was similar to how several Fox News figures used last January's attack on the office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to criticize the country's gun laws. They ignored the fact that in the United States, where there are more privately-owned guns and much looser gun regulations than in France, there are many times more mass public shootings and the gun homicide race is more than 14 times higher.