SPARTANBURG, SC — Speaking about the terror attacks in Paris during a campaign event in South Carolina on Friday, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said that if the victims had been armed, they would have “been so much better off” because there would have been a shootout.
After saying that people should stop referring to the attackers as “masterminds” because they were just “stupid people” who went to “various places in Paris going bang, bang, bang, boom, boom,” he claimed that fewer people would be dead right now if Parisians had been armed:
You had hundreds of people, hundreds of people, in those rooms, especially the big dance room. Paris and France have probably the toughest gun laws in the world. We have tough gun laws here some places, and by the way they’re usually the places that have the biggest problems… Out of all those five, six, seven, eight hundred people, there wasn’t one gunman. The only one that had the gun were the thugs, were the stupid people, were the losers. They were the only ones that had the guns… So they killed almost 150 people… They just moved them over. You know what? If I’m in that room and let’s say we have two or five or 40 people with guns, we’re going to do a lot better because there’s going to be a shootout. These people would have been helpless. If they had some guns in that room, they would have been so much better off and it would have been a much, much different result.
The remarks drew a large applause from the audience. Spartanburg resident Duane Morehead told ThinkProgress he completely agreed with Trump’s comments.
“I’ve said it before — he said it after I did,” Morehead said after the town hall at Wofford College. “Somebody in that music hall should have had a gun. Try and rob a Waffle House in Spartanburg County. There have been so many people that have tried to rob a Waffle House and they have been shot dead because somebody in the Waffle House had a concealed weapon. Look it up.”
Friday was not the first time Trump has said the Paris attacks would have played out differently if France’s gun laws were less strict. He said during a rally in Texas the day after the attacks that “if they had guns — if our people had guns, if they were allowed to carry — it would have been a much, much different situation.”
But many of the deaths in Paris were caused by suicide bombers, meaning that guns would have done nothing to prevent civilian deaths. Trump is completely wrong when he says that places with stricter gun control experience more gun violence. Evidence shows that U.S. states with tighter gun control laws have fewer deaths, including homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths.
If the locations where the Paris attacks occurred — a music venue, sports stadium, and neighborhood restaurants — allowed either concealed or open carry of firearms, it would be more likely that they’d experience more frequent gun violence. Research shows that right-to-carry laws are linked to an increase in violent crime. Where there are more guns, there is more homicide, both in the United States and in other high-income countries like France.
And it’s not likely that the attackers chose the locations where they opened fire because they were gun free zones . According to a study of 62 mass shootings over 30 years conducted by Mother Jones, “not a single case includes evidence that the killer chose to target a place because it banned guns.” Many of those mass shootings took place in areas were guns were permitted, but not a single one was stopped by armed civilians. In fact, a “good guy with a gun” was on the Umpqua Community College campus at the time when a gunman killed ten people last month.