Right-wing media figures are pushing the false claim that if the victims of the terror attacks in Paris carried guns, then they could have stopped the attackers and prevented the onslaught. Experts, however, have explained that civilians with guns have not historically stopped mass attacks and that increasing gun availability actually increases violence.
Right-Wing Media Claim That More Guns And Fewer Restrictions On Guns Could Have Stopped The Attacks In Paris
Fox's Andrew Napolitano: If 10 Of The Victims Had A Gun “The Slaughter Might Have Been Diminished Considerably.” On the November 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox's senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano claimed that France's gun laws enabled the November 13 attacks in Paris claiming “if 10 people in that dance hall or concert hall had a gun, the slaughter might have been diminished considerably”:
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: Look at the guns that [the terrorists] had. Those guns are absolutely unlawful in Paris.
TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): Of course.
NAPOLITANO: Well, was anybody in that dance hall able to shoot back? No, because it's illegal to own a gun in Paris. If 10 people in that dance hall or concert hall had had a gun, the slaughter might have been diminished considerably. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/19/15]
Fox's Katie Pavlich: “The Death Toll May Have Been Much Lower If Someone” Had A Gun. On the November 19 edition of Fox Business Network's Varney & Co., Fox News contributor and Townhall.com editor Katie Pavlich asserted that if anyone in the Paris theater that the terrorists targeted had a gun, “the death toll may have been much lower”:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): Donald Trump is suggesting something there which is anathema to a lot of Europeans, the widespread use of carrying and handguns. How do you feel about that?
KATIE PAVLICH: Well I think he is absolutely correct. And look, these terrorists obviously have no problem with dying, so they wouldn't be afraid to come into a theater if people were armed. But the point is that the death toll may have been much lower if someone was there to confront these guys. [Fox Business Network, Varney & Co., 11/19/15]
Fox Guest Ben Stein: If Paris Attack Were To Happen In The United States Someone “Would Have Shot [The Terrorists] Before They Had Gotten Off Two Rounds.” Frequent Fox News guest Ben Stein told Fox host Neil Cavuto that if the terror attacks in Paris would have happened in a place with fewer gun restrictions where more people had guns, the terrorists would have been shot “before they had gotten off two rounds”:
NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): Paris is one of those cities where they have some of the world's toughest gun control laws. In fact, only hobbyists are only allowed to even own such guns and many policemen don't even, are not even allowed to carry weapons, much as it is in much of Canada. So it's the gun ownership issue that people want to bring to the fore here. Ben Stein says it might be falling on deaf ears here because this country, again, is very tough when it comes to guns. But Ben Stein, violence still happens doesn't it?
BEN STEIN: Well we hate violence. We hate racism. We hate terrorism. But gun control has nothing to do with this. I mean, it's amazing. Just yesterday I saw the idiot of idiots Bernie Sanders saying that the terrorism has something to do with climate change. One doesn't have anything to do with the other, and neither does it have to do with gun control. Terrorists can get guns. Terrorists can get guns one way or another. People who want to do mass murders can get guns. I keep thinking what would have happened if this had been a concert in north Idaho, where my wife and I live during the summer. There would have been someone in the audience who would have shot those two guys up on the stage before they had gotten off two rounds. This is crazy that gun control has anything to do with this issue.
CAVUTO: Do you ever wonder though, I mean we have seen some of the more horrific acts of violence. Certainly Norway comes to mind, other countries that have similarly very strict laws. That countries like France, for example, if you have ill intentions, there are ways around those, and a way to make sure that you're the only one with the weapons, right?
STEIN: And the same is true everywhere. That's the problem. There's an old, old saying, old, old saying -- when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. It is a very amazing thing that in towns, these western rural towns, southern rural towns, where there is not much gun control, where people carry guns in their cars and on their belts, there's not much gun violence. There are not many gun homicides, whereas in places where guns are strictly controlled there's a lot of gun violence. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 11/16/15]
Fox Business Network's Varney: If Somebody Had A Gun In The Paris Concert Hall “You Could Have Stopped It Fairly Quickly.” Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed 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 News: “France's Strict Gun Controls ... Proved Impotent” During The Attacks. A November 14 article from Breitbart News claimed that France's “all-out gun bans for certain types of firearms” were “impotent against determined attackers.” The article 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.
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 News Contributor Newt Gingrich: Imagine If “10 Or 15 Citizens With Concealed Carry Permits” Were In The Theater That Was Attacked In Paris. Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich speculated on Twitter 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”:
Imagine a theater with 10 or 15 citizens with concealed carry permits. We live in an age when evil men have to be killed by good people
-- Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) November 13, 2015
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:
Too bad there were no concealed carry permits ... anywhere in Europe ... since 1818.
-- Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) November 14, 2015
Experts Agree That More Guns Would Not Have Prevented The Attacks In Paris
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. Reporter Roberto Federman pointed to a study that found “regular people are clumsy with firearms” and would not be sufficiently prepared to take on heavily armed 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, Wonkblog, 11/14/15]
Mother Jones: “There Is No Evidence To Support” The Claim That Armed Civilians Stop Mass Attacks. Mother Jones dismantled the argument that armed citizens are likely to stop mass shootings, explaining that none of 62 mass public shootings over a 30 year period analyzed by Mother Jones were stopped this way and that “in cases in Washington and Texas in 2005, would-be heroes who tried to take action with licensed firearms were gravely wounded and killed”:
No less a fantasy is the idea that gun-free zones prevent armed civilians from saving the day. Not one of the 62 mass shootings we documented was stopped this way. Veteran FBI, ATF, and police officials say that an armed citizen opening fire against an attacker in a panic-stricken movie theater or shopping mall is very likely to make matters worse. Law enforcement agents train rigorously for stopping active shooters, they say, a task that requires extraordinary skills honed under acute duress. In cases in Washington and Texas in 2005, would-be heroes who tried to take action with licensed firearms were gravely wounded and killed. In the Tucson mass shooting in 2011, an armed citizen admitted to coming within a split second of gunning down the wrong person--one of the bystanders who'd helped tackle and subdue the actual killer. [Mother Jones, 4/1/13]
More Guns Are Linked To More Gun Violence, Not The Thwarting Of Attacks
GunPolicy.org: Gun Homicide Rate In The U.S., Which Has Looser Gun Laws, Is 14 Times Higher Than France. Data from GunPolicy.org show that the gun homicide rate is over 14 times higher in the United States compared to France. Compared to the United States, France has a far more comprehensive licensing and screening process for gun ownership and more rigorously limits the types of firearms civilians can own:
[GunPolicy.org, accessed 11/19/15]
Johns Hopkins Center For Gun Policy And Research: Concealed Carry Laws Most Consistently Linked To Increase In Aggravated Assault. An October 2012 report from the Center for Gun Policy and Research summarized existing research on concealed carry laws and found that looser restrictions on carrying firearms in public resulted in a “one to nine percent increase in aggravated assaults”:
So-called right to carry (RTC) laws allow individuals who are not legally proscribed from possessing firearms to carry concealed weapons in public, either by making it easy to get a permit to do so, or by not requiring such permits at all. Arguments for RTC laws are premised on the idea that everyone who is eligible to legally own a firearm is law-abiding, and is at low risk for committing a violent crime. Research cited above concerning weak standards for legal firearm ownership calls this into question. A recent review of concealed carry permit holders in North Carolina examined criminal offending in the group over a five-year period. During that period, more than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of crimes (excluding traffic violations), including more than 200 felonies and 10 murders or manslaughters. An additional 900 had been convicted of a drunk driving offense, an offense commonly associated with substance abuse.
The most consistent finding across studies which correct for these flaws is that RTC laws are associated with an increase in aggravated assaults. Using various statistical methods, estimates range from a one to nine percent increase in aggravated assaults as a result of RTC laws. [Johns Hopkins University, Center for Gun Policy and Research, October 2012]
Harvard Injury Control Research Center: “In Homes, Cities, States And Regions In The US, Where There Are More Guns,” There Are More Gun Homicides. According to a series of peer-reviewed studies published by researchers at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, higher levels of gun ownership are associated with higher homicide rates at the city, state, and national level in the United States and other developed nations:
Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries. Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide. [Harvard Injury Control Research Center, accessed 11/19/15]