U.S. President Donald Trump has managed to offend France after he, while speaking at a gun rights convention in Dallas on Friday, suggested that victims at the Bataclan centre during the November 2015 attacks could have prevented the killings if some of them were carrying guns on them. Trump pointed his hand as if it were a gun while describing how each of the victims in Paris was fatally shot. "They took their time and gunned them down one by one -- boom, come over here, boom, come over here, boom," he said.
Trump went on to say things might have been different if Parisians in the cafes under attack had been armed. "If one employee or just one patron had a gun, or if one person in this room had been there with a gun, aimed at the opposite direction, the terrorists would have fled or been shot. And it would have been a whole different story," Trump said.
A group of 10 men claiming affiliation to the terrorist organization – Islamic State, staged a coordinated attack in Paris on November 13, 2015, killing at least 150 people and wounding hundreds. The attackers, armed with assault rifles and explosives, shot dead people watching a football match and attending a concert at the Bataclan Theatre, respectively. It was one of the most daring and horrifying nights for France. After the attack, the French government raised the country’s security threat level to the highest ever.
After Trump’s statement made headlines, the French ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, tweeted: "The statistics of the people killed by guns don't convince France to change its guns laws."
#bataclan “The statistics of the people killed by guns don’t convince France to change its guns laws”. Declaration of the French MFA.
— Gérard Araud (@GerardAraud) May 5, 2018
Soon after, the French foreign ministry issued a statement Saturday after Trump's comments. "France expresses its firm disapproval of President Trump's remarks ... and calls for the respect of the memory of the victims," it said.
Francois Hollande, who was the French President during the 2015 attacks, tweeted Saturday: "Donald Trump's shameful remarks and obscene histrionics say a lot about what he thinks of France and its values. The friendship between our two peoples will not be tainted by disrespect and excessiveness. All my thoughts go to the victims of November 13."
Les propos honteux et les simagrées obscènes de Donald Trump en disent long sur ce qu’il pense de la France et de ses valeurs. L’amitié entre nos deux peuples ne sera pas entachée par l’irrespect et l’outrance. Toutes mes pensées vont aux victimes du 13 novembre.
— François Hollande (@fhollande) May 5, 2018
Trump’s statements at the pro-gun rally come after the U.S. is seeing a growing movement demanding stricter gun control laws, after a series of mass school shootings this year claimed multiple lives of children and teachers alike. Trump’s presidential campaign was supported by the National Rifle Association, a pro-gun rights organization which was the organiser for the convention at which the U.S. President was speaking.