Following Norway Attack, Right-Wing Media Advocate For More Lenient Gun Laws


Following the July 22 attack on Norway's Utoya Island by Anders Breivik, right-wing personalities have begun to advocate for more lenient gun laws, claiming that "if somebody did [have a gun], they might have been able to take this crazy guy out before he did all of this damage." In fact, Norway, despite having stricter laws on handgun ownership than the United States, has a much lower rate of deaths related to gun homicides.

Fox Cheerleads For Lax Gun Laws Following July 22 Attack In Norway

Napolitano: If Norway's Handgun Laws Were More Lenient, And Someone Near Breivik Had Been Armed, "They Might Have Been Able To Take This Crazy Guy Out." From the July 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

ANDREW NAPOLITANO: I don't think that this society has seen this type of killing since World War II, so it has not happened in the lifetime of most people now living in Norway and they have a problem with guns. It's very easy to get a rifle in Norway for hunting -- a handgun, almost impossible. 76 people were killed on that island. Nobody had a handgun. If somebody did, they might have been able to take this crazy guy out before he did all of this damage.

BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Absolutely. Yep. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/26/11]

Napolitano : Because Of Norway's Gun Laws, "Nobody Could Take This Guy Down," And "Innocent Human Beings Were Slaughtered." During the July 25 edition of Fox News' The Five, Andrew Napolitano and Greg Gutfeld argued that the atrocity committed by Breivik could have been prevented with more lenient gun laws. From Fox News' The Five:

NAPOLITANO (co-host): How about the fact that nobody on that island had a handgun?

GREG GUTFELD (co-host): Yeah. I hear -

BOB BECKEL (co-host): Here we go.

NAPOLITANO: Nobody had the ability to shoot back at him and stop him? Do you have a problem with that?

BECKEL: Here we go. John Wayne is back in the room.

NAPOLITANO: You have a problem with that?

BECKEL: Yes, I have a problem. And let me give you the problem. You know what's amazing to me, is that the gun nuts in this country immediately jump on this and say, "If everybody had a gun then the guy could have been shot."

NAPOLITANO: Should we cut the Second Amendment out of the constitution?

BECKEL: Yes we should as a matter of fact.

NAPOLITANO: Alright at least you're --

BECKEL: No, no, we should interpret it for what it is.

GUTFELD: Let me -- can I just make a simple point?

BECKEL: Excuse me, wait a second, I want to make one point. Last year in Norway, there were 500 murders. In the United States there were 10,543. Norway restricts guns, we do not. Case closed.

NAPOLITANO: Case closed. Why did it take the police 90 minutes to get there? Why is it that nobody who was there had the right to carry a handgun under Norwegian law and why is it that 95 beautiful, innocent human beings were slaughtered because nobody could take this guy down?

GUTFELD: Here's a simple thing. You know Bob, there is a midpoint from where you are and from where I'm at. Fact is that that was an island that took 90 minutes for those people to get there and in that time those people were killed. We live in a building, I work in a building that's protected by armed guards. My life isn't any more valuable than those lives. If they had -- there's a statistic that shows the amount of carnage at the beginning of an attack is directly related to when the second gun arrives. When another gun arrives, the amount of casualties is diminished. [Fox News, The Five, 7/25/11]

Beck: "Nobody Could Stop This Madman" Because "Nobody Had A Firearm." From the July 25 edition of The Glenn Beck Program:

GLENN BECK (host): 93, dead. Mainly children. Now one thing that you have to take into account is in Norway, at least on this island, no one had a firearm. No one. This guy walked on onto this island with a firearm, no one else had one. No one could stop him. No one had one. Remember what I said a couple of weeks ago? The police cannot prevent the crime. They can only come in and investigate what happened. Occasionally, if they happen to be there, yes.


BECK: I have a right to protect myself. Nobody had a firearm. Nobody could stop this madman. 93 people later, he stopped. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 7/25/11]

Fox Contributor John Bolton: "Gun Control Laws Are Not Going To Stop Somebody Who Is Determined To Carry Out This Kind Of Insane Attack." From the July 25 edition of Fox Business' Freedom Watch:

JOHN BOLTON (Fox News contributor): But as I say that the horrific amount of damage that he was able to do suggests that a broader conspiracy whether its Neo-Nazis on the one hand or terrorists on the other hand, could cause even more damage. And I think it really should lead to a better discussion in Norway and across Europe about the necessary security that they should be undertaking, whether it's the possibility of concealed carry laws or whether it's a better police and security service.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO (host): Now, Norway allows a lot of people to own rifles because hunting is a very big deal there. But it's very, very restrictive on handguns. In fact, it's very difficult to get a license from the government in Norway to carry a handgun with you. I think it only makes common sense, but I want you to weigh in on this, that if somebody on that island had had a handgun rather than was prohibited from having one by of the government, there might have been a lot fewer than 90 young people slaughtered.

BOLTON: Right, well you can never tell about a given situation but academic research is pretty clear that if there's any effort at self-defense the overall impact of a madman like this would be considerably less. And I think it does go to the cultural question, there's no tradition of using firearms for self-defense, there's certainly is as you say a very strict gun control regime and I think that demonstrates the even more basic point that faced with a threat like this, gun control laws are not going to stop somebody who is determined to carry out this kind of insane attack. [Fox Business, Freedom Watch, 7/25/11]

Cal Thomas: "[I]f Someone On Utoeya Island Had Returned Fire, There's A Possibility That Far Fewer Would Have Been Killed." From a July 25 column in The Washington Examiner:

Norway forbids civilians from carrying concealed weapons, or owning an automatic weapon, unless they are gun collectors. As in America, gun laws do not deter criminals who are determined to cause harm with a weapon.

What would have deterred Breivik would have been a gun in the hands of a competent person capable of stopping his mass-murdering spree.

If Norway can be a site for terror, is there a safe place on Earth? The answer is no. There are no "safe" places; no one can be 100 percent safe. Does that mean everyone should be armed? Not necessarily.

What it means is that for some countries, some people and some places, a way to make the environment as safe as humanly possible is to have properly armed and trained people who can respond to such events.

Would Anders Behring Breivik have thought twice about his killing spree if he had known in advance that someone would shoot back? That is impossible to know.

But if someone on Utoeya Island had returned fire, there's a possibility that far fewer would have been killed. This approach may not be pleasant for some to contemplate, but the alternative is more personal and national mourning, as is now being experienced in Norway. [The Washington Examiner, 7/25/11]

In Fact, Despite The U.S.'s Permissive Gun Laws, It Still Has A Higher Gun Homicide Rate Than Norway U.S. Has A Far Greater Rate Of Homicides, Gun Homicides, And Unintentional Gun Deaths When Compared To Norway. According to data compiled by, compared to Norway, the United States has a far higher rate of homicides and gun related homicides:

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Experts Have Debunked The Theory That "Right-To-Carry Laws" Deter Crime

Co-Director Of Johns Hopkins Center For Gun Policy And Research: "Permissive Right-To-Carry Laws" May Actually Increase Crime. In a New York Times Room For Debate post titled "The 'Right To Carry' Fallacy", Daniel Webster, co-director at the Center for Gun Policy and Research and professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote:

When mass shootings occur, many think that, if only one of the citizens at the site had access to a firearm, they could have taken the gunman out and saved lives. That's an odd argument to make in a state where probably more people carry guns than in any other state.

While you can find an example to prove this point, it begs the question of whether it's sound public policy to allow anyone who is not prohibited by our weak gun laws to carry firearms anywhere they choose. It is not clear that permissive right-to-carry laws haven't increased violence. There have been numerous studies of these laws, many of which have substantial flaws. The best study was done by Ian Ayres and John Donohue, law professors at Yale and Stanford, respectively, and disaggregates the effects for each state and type of crime.

The estimates from their best models show right-to-carry laws associated with increases in 7 of 9 crimes studied, with the largest effect (+9 percent) being the crime many researchers would have hypothesized would increase - aggravated assaults.

Finally, laws prohibiting gun-carrying are an important tool for police to use to suppress the practice in so-called hot spots for shootings. Police units focused on deterring illegal gun-carrying have been the most consistently effective approach to reducing gun violence. Permissive right-to-carry laws could make it harder for police to use this law to deter gun violence. [The New York Times, 1/11/11]

National Research Council: "It Is Not Possible To Determine ... Causal Link Between The Passage Of Right-To-Carry Laws And Crime Rates." In 2004, a National Research Council (NRC) committee released a report on right-to-carry laws and their effects on crime. From the committee's conclusion:

The literature on right-to-carry laws summarized in this chapter has obtained conflicting estimates of their effects on crime. Estimation results have proven to be very sensitive to the precise specification used and time period examined. The initial model specification, when extended to new data, does not show evidence that passage of right-to-carry laws reduces crime. The estimated effects are highly sensitive to seemingly minor changes in the model specification and control variables. No link between right-to-carry laws and changes in crime is apparent in the raw data, even in the initial sample; it is only once numerous covariates are included that the negative results in the early data emerge. While the trend models show a reduction in the crime growth rate following the adoption of right-to-carry laws, these trend reductions occur long after law adoption, casting serious doubt on the proposition that the trend models estimated in the literature reflect effects of the law change. Finally, some of the point estimates are imprecise. Thus, the committee concludes that with the current evidence it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates. [Firearms and Violence, Committee on Law and Justice, National Research Council, 2004]

John Donohue: "Empirical" Evidence Refutes Claim That Right-To-Carry Laws Would Reduce Crime. In a New York Times Room For Debate post, Stanford Law professor John Donohue wrote: "[W]hile some early studies by John Lott and others suggested that state policies providing greater freedom to carry guns would reduce crime, empirical evidence refutes this view. Wise gun policy and individual consumer choice to carry weapons involves weighing competing probabilities." [The New York Times, 1/11/11]

Donohue's 2003 Study Concludes: "No Longer Can Any Plausible Case Be Made On Statistical Grounds That Shall-Issue Laws Are Likely To Reduce Crime For All Or Even Most States." In a 2003 study titled, "Shooting Down the 'More Guns, Less Crime' Hypothesis," Donohue and Yale Law professor Ian Ayres concluded, "No longer can any plausible case be made on statistical grounds that shall-issue laws are likely to reduce crime for all or even most states." They also wrote:

While we do not want to overstate the strength of the conclusions that can be drawn from the extremely variable results emerging from the statistical analysis, if anything, there is stronger evidence for the conclusion that these laws increase crime than there is for the conclusion that they decrease it. ["Shooting Down the 'More Guns, Less Crime' Hypothesis," October 2002]

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