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The Paris terrorist attacks shouldn't be exploited to clamp down on guns, insists Jesse Hughes, the front man for the band that was performing when 89 people were killed in the Bataclan theater last year.
Hughes' band, Eagles of Death Metal, was about an hour into its performance when gunmen stormed in and opened fire in one of the coordinated attacks across the city on Nov. 13.
In an interview Monday with the French television station iTélé, Hughes — a longtime gun-rights activist — maintained not only that French gun restrictions didn't inhibit the terrorists but that they actually made it easier for them.
"Did your French gun control stop a single [expletive] person from dying at the Bataclan?" Hughes said. "And if anyone can answer yes, I'd like to hear it, because I don't think so. I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that I've ever seen in my life charging head-first into the face of death with their firearms."
Hughes, who has vigorously advocated for unfettered gun ownership — even waving a gun at a friend in a documentary that was pulled from film festivals after the Nov. 13 attacks — told iTélé that, if anything, his experience had only strengthened his views.
"I know people will disagree with me, but it just seems like God made men and women, and that night guns made them equal," he said. "I think the only way that my mind has been changed is that maybe that until nobody has guns everybody has to have them."
Hughes gave the interview on the eve of his band's return to Paris, where it will perform Tuesday night at Olympia Hall. He told Sweden's TV4 on Sunday that he knew playing in Paris again would be "intense."
But "you have to stay light," he said. "You have to keep your heart light. I'm not going to let the bad guys win."