CENTER STAGE

The band that barely escaped the Bataclan massacre now wants everyone to carry guns

He was front and center, last November, when Islamic extremists opened fire on a frenzied concert hall in Paris. Firing into the crowd of 1,500 excited music fans at Le Bataclan, the gunmen claimed 90 lives—all right before the eyes of the lead singer of California-based rock band Eagles of Death Metal, who was in the middle of performing on stage.

Yet the harrowing experience did not rattle Jesse Hughes’s support for universal gun ownership. It bolstered it.

Hughes is playing again in Paris tonight (Feb. 16) for the first time since the massacre, in a performance at the Olympia concert hall, to which survivors of the Bataclan massacre were given free tickets. Soldiers, armed police officers, counselors, and psychologists will be on site for support. Hughes told French TV station iTélé (link in French) that he felt a “sacred responsibility to finish this show.”

He also said his opinions on gun control—specifically, his staunch belief in universal gun access—have not swayed. Restrictions on guns in France, he said, helped enable the terror attacks for which ISIL has since claimed responsibility. From his tear-filled interview:

Did your French gun control stop a single fucking person from dying at the Bataclan? 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.

I know people will disagree with me, but it just seems like God made men and women, and that night guns made them equal.

And I hate it that it’s that way. I think the only way that my mind has been changed is that maybe that until nobody has guns, everybody has to have them. Because I don’t ever want to see anything like this happen again and I want everyone to have the best chance to live, and I saw people die that maybe could have lived, I don’t know.

All this is in spite of Hughes’s personal encounter with a gunman backstage during the terror attacks, which he related in a separate interview with Sweden’s TV4 this weekend. “I thought I was dead,” Hughes said of that moment; yet he managed to escape the gunman’s rounds. A member of the US National Rifle Association and a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Hughes said he doesn’t “go anywhere in America without a gun anymore.”

Tuesday’s Olympia show will be the band’s first since November, and some 2,000 attendees are expected—though not all the Bataclan survivors have accepted their free invitations.

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