The statement from the Quai d’Orsay ministry, entitled a “a reaction to President Trump”, read: “France expresses its firm disapproval of President Trump's comments on the attacks of 13 November 2015 in Paris, and calls for respect for the memory of the victims”.
The statement continued: “Thanks to the efficiency and professionalism of the special forces and the bravery and heroism of the French police, hundreds of lives were saved. Every country is free to define its own laws when it comes to bearing arms.
“France is proud to be a safe country, where the buying and holding of firearms is strictly regulated. The statistics of firearm victims do not make us question France’s choice in the matter.”
The statement continued: “Free circulation of arms in society does not constitute a defence against terrorism attacks. It could, on the contrary, make it easier to plan this type of attack.”
The reaction comes after Trump addressed the US pro-gun lobby group the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Friday May 4. He said that France’s gun laws were the “toughest in the world”, but that if more people had been allowed to carry guns in Paris, the November terrorist attacks would have seen fewer victims.
Trump said: “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.”
Victim associations and victims themselves immediately condemned the comments, with former association president Emmanuel Domenach writing in English on Twitter, “Dear Donald Trump, Go f*** yourself (you can use a gun if you want).”
Bataclan survivor Aurelia Gilbert tweeted to interministerial victim group DIA Victimes: “Rather than giving me a medal, could you ask @FranceDiplo (the foreign office) to get Donald Trump to apologise?”
Former President François Hollande also condemned the remarks.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “Donald Trump’s shameful comments and obscene mockery speak volumes about what he thinks of France and its values. The friendship between our two peoples will not be tainted by disrespect and outrage. All my thoughts go out 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 also sparked controversy by implicitly referring to terrorist attacks involving vehicles, including the Nice Bastille Day attacks of 2016.
He suggested that countries that ban guns “should ban cars too”, because they are “the new form of death for the maniac terrorists”.
The President added: “We will never give up our freedom. We will live free, and die free.”
In the same speech, Trump also sparked anger in Britain by saying that he had heard of a London hospital becoming like a “military war zone” because of rising knife crime in the city.
“They don’t have guns [but] they have knives,” he said.
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