In the wake of the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, France, some American politicians commented about how the anti-gun laws did nothing to disarm the terrorists but did ensure that the victims were defenseless. A rather strong backlash against those politicians ensued. That backlash is misguided and is part of the problem.
The November 13, 2015 Paris Terrorist Attacks
On the evening of 13 November 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Paris, France, and its northern suburb Saint-Denis. The attacks consisted of mass shootings,suicide bombings, bombings, and hostage taking. Beginning at 21:16 CET, three separate explosions and six mass shootings occurred, including bombings near the Stade de Francein Saint-Denis. The deadliest attack was at the Bataclan theatre, where attackers took hostages and engaged in a standoff with police until it was ended at 00:58 14 November CET.
At least 129 people were killed, 89 of them at the Bataclan theatre. 352 people were injured by the attacks, including 99 people described as being in a serious condition. In addition to the civilian casualties, eight attackers were killed and authorities continued to search for any accomplices that remained at large. . . . Shots were fired at the terrace of La Casa Nostra, an Italian restaurant, on the rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi, south of the rue Bichat, by a man wielding a machine gun (emphasis added).
The comments from Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump
Newt Gingrich tweeted the following:
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
In response, many comments looked a lot like this:
Hey Newt shut the f*** up, people are dying. Thanks!
Donald Trump spoke at length about France’s gun laws:
“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,” Trump said to cheers during a political rally at an arena in southeast Texas on Saturday afternoon. “I hear it all the time, you know. You look at certain cities that have the highest violence, the highest problem with guns and shootings and killings — Chicago is an example, toughest gun laws in the United States, nothing but problems. So our country better get smart because we’re not smart right now.”
The criticism of Trump was swift as well, such as the article “Donald Trump Just Showed Us How Not to Respond to the Paris Attack”
Why Trump and Gingrich are correct
Although neither Trump nor Gingrich are my favorite politicians, in this particular case they are both quite correct in their statements.
When it comes to the ability of armed citizens to stop violent attackers, there is really no debate to be had. Studies as well as real-life examples make clear that armed self defense works. In Israel, there are many, many examples of armed citizens stopping terrorist attacks, saving numerous lives.
It is also worth noting that France’s ultra-strict gun control laws didn’t stop the terrorists from acquiring and using machine guns. That is not too surprising, as a criminal/terrorist willing to kill as many people as possible before blowing themselves up will have no qualms about violating gun control laws. We have seen, time and time again, that criminals who want guns will smuggle them, manufacture them, or steal them. The only people disarmed by France’s gun control were the law abiding citizens who were left defenseless.
Why Trump and Gingrich are correct as to their timing
Much of the backlash against Trump and Gingrich seemed to center upon the timing of their statements, on the theory that it is improper to comment so soon after such a terrible terrorist attack. Such a thought process is misguided. The solution is not to shy away from discussing such events and their causes, but rather to confront them head-on so that such tragedies do not keep happening.
When it comes to learning from tragedies so that history does not repeat itself, our aviation industry is a superb place to look for guidance. When a plane crashes (or has a less-serious incident), a thorough investigation is performed with the goal of figuring out what went wrong so that it can be prevented in the future. It is that approach which has made flying the safest means of travel, such that many years there are 0 Americans killed on our commercial airliners. If, after an airliner crashed, we were to bury our heads in the sand and refuse to analyze what went wrong, then there would never be any progress towards improved safety. It really should be common sense that problems are to be analyzed and debated, not ignored.
Getting back to the issue at hand, it is clear that there is a sizable portion of the population in the US and Europe that doesn’t understand the value of armed self defense in stopping terrorists (and other criminals) before they have a chance to inflict their harm. Until more attention is paid to that issue, the problem will never be solved, and people will continue to die needlessly. By drawing attention to the issue while it is fresh in everyone’s minds will cause the most discussion, and therefore have the best chance of causing real change in people’s perceptions and the laws that currently disarm law-abiding citizens.
The time to address misguided anti-gun laws is now – not after the next mass killing.