WASHINGTON POST – BEAUMONT, Tex. — Donald Trump says the tough gun control laws in Paris contributed to the high death toll during a series of terrorist attacks on Friday. The attacks, he added, also reveal the danger in allowing Syrian refugees into the country.
“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.”
By making that comment, Trump doubled down on a message he tweeted in January, following a smaller-scale terrorist attack: “Isn’t it interesting that the tragedy in Paris took place in one of the toughest gun control countries in the world?” As that dated tweet recirculated on Friday evening, the French ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, tweeted at Trump: “This message is repugnant in its lack of any human decency. Vulture.”
Trump started the rally by leading the crowd of several thousand in a moment of silence in remembrance of the 129 people killed in the Paris attacks, which the Islamic State terrorist group has claimed to have organized. Then Trump launched right into the politics of the attacks.
“What is going on is terrible,” Trump said. “And when you look at what happened in that case: It was just reported, one from syria and our president wants to take in 250,000 from Syria.”
The crowd booed Syrian refugees for several seconds, then Trump began again: “No, I mean, think of it: 250,000 people. And we all have heart, and we all want people taken care of and all of that, but with the problems our country has, to take in 250,000 people — some of whom are going to have problems, big problems — is just insane. You have to be insane. Terrible.”
In September, Obama announced that he had directed the U.S. government to accept at least 10,000 refugees, not 250,000, from Syria in the next fiscal year, a six-fold increase over the number admitted this year to the United States.
After Obama’s announcement, Trump said later that month that if he is elected president, he will force all Syrian refugees to leave the United States. He has said that these refugees could be a terrorist army in disguise and cannot be trusted. Such comments have resonated with rally crowds across the country and did so again in Texas on Saturday.
“I think they’re wolves in sheep’s clothing,” said John Courts, 36, a Beaumont police officer who attended the rally with his 11-year-old son. “Bringing those refugees here is very dangerous. Yeah, they need help but it’s going to bring terrorism right into our front door.”
“I don’t want any of them here,” said Kendall Johns, 43, a Trump supporter at the rally who lives in Beaumont and works at an oil refinery. “I mean, send them to Mexico. Send them to Central America. Send them to South America. I don’t want them here.”
“I do not want them,” said Sheila Milbrandt, 49, a paralegal from Sour Lake, Tex. “We don’t know who they are. We don’t know their history. We don’t know if they’re terrorists just being funneled through these other countries. What do we know about them? We don’t need them here. America needs to take care of its own.”
During an hour-long speech, Trump also railed against illegal immigration, pledged to deport the millions of immigrants illegally in the country, promised to build a wall along the border but said he would continue to allow foreign workers with legal visas to work on farms.
Trump also invited relatives of four people killed by illegal immigrants onto the stage to share their stories, at one point comforting a woman who became emotional.