Friday 21 September 2018

'It would have been a whole different story' - Trump says Paris terror attack could have been prevented if people were armed

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures before he speaks at a National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures before he speaks at a National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Associated Press Reporter

President Donald Trump has told the National Rifle Association convention that the Paris terror attack in 2015 could have been prevented if people in the area had been armed.

Trump also told the convention on Friday in Dallas that a London hospital was now 'like a war zone' because of knife crime.

Trump told to the audience that the Paris terror attack could have been prevented if more people were armed.

"The terrorists would have fled or been shot and it would have been a whole different story," he said.

The 2015 attack left 130 dead after terrorists carried out a series of suicide bombs and mass shootings in the French capital.

Speaking at a pro-gun rally, the US president also claimed that knife crime in London is so bad that one unnamed hospital in the capital is "like a war zone for horrible stabbing wounds" with "blood all over the floors".

He told the National Rifle Convention (NRA) in Dallas: "I recently read a story that in London, which has unbelievably tough gun laws, a once very prestigious hospital right in the middle is like a war zone for horrible stabbing wounds.

"Yes that's right, they don't have guns they have knives. And instead there's blood all over the floors of this hospital. They say it's as bad as a military war zone hospital.

"We're here today because we recognise a simple fact. The one thing that has always stood between the American people and the elimination of our Second Amendment rights has been Conservatives and congress willing to fight for those rights, and we're fighting."

At least 38 people in London have lost their lives to knife crime so far this year, the Met confirmed.

Trump also told the crowd that they had an administration in Washington that was "fighting to protect your Second Amendment, and we will protect your Second Amendment".

The president told tens of thousands of attendees that their right to bear arms was "under siege".

But he pledged that those rights "will never, ever be under siege as long as I'm your president".

Trump did not elaborate on how the Second Amendment was under siege.

The president was addressing the NRA gathering nearly three months after a deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

The president temporarily strayed from the group's strong opposition to tougher gun controls after the school shooting - only to rapidly return to the fold.

He was speaking at the event for the fourth year in a row. Last year, he became the first sitting president to appear in more than 30 years, declaring that the "assault" on the Second Amendment had ended.

But this year's speech in Dallas came as the issue of gun violence takes on new urgency after one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.

Survivors of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead are leading a massive national gun control movement.

Several groups have announced plans to protest over the weekend during the NRA event. The protesters will include parents of those killed in Parkland and other shootings.

The survivors' campaign has not led to major changes from the White House or the Republican-led Congress but Mr Trump did briefly declare he would stand up to the powerful gun lobby.

He later backpedalled, expressing support for modest changes to the background check system, as well as arming teachers.

His attendance at this year's NRA convention was announced just days ago and came after Vice President Mike Pence was already scheduled to appear.

Asked why Mr Trump was attending, given political tensions around gun violence, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this week that safety was a "big priority".

"We also support the Second Amendment, and strongly support it, and don't see there to be a problem with speaking at the National Rifle Association's meeting," she said.

Mr Trump has long enjoyed strong backing from the NRA, which spent about 30 million US dollars (€25m) supporting his presidential campaign.

One of the Parkland survivors, David Hogg, was critical of the president's planned attendance.

"It's kind of hypocritical of him to go there after saying so many politicians bow to the NRA and are owned by them," he said. "It proves that his heart and his wallet are in the same place."

Trump's moves have drawn concerns from both sides of the gun debate.

"He ran as supposedly the best friend of the Second Amendment and has become gun grabber in chief," said Michael Hammond, legislative counsel to the Gun Owners of America.

He said his members were upset Mr Trump had approved a spending bill that included background check updates. "We're not confident at all. We are very disappointed," he said.

Press Association

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