What the French Train Attack Doesn’t Prove


First: bravo to the three Americans who took down an armed terrorist on a French train. Those men are true heroes, and as a National Guard soldier myself I’m extremely proud that one is a fellow Guardsman. I have nothing but praise for them, and hope to shake their hands someday.


Having said that, and I’m in no way detracting from their bravery or heroism, but they got lucky. Many factors gave them the opportunity to rush and take down the attacker. As a combat vet, former active shooter response instructor and longtime cop, when I heard about the attack and the Americans (and others) who stopped it, my reaction was, “Those guys are incredibly brave,” followed quickly by “And it’s a damn good thing they’re still alive, because they could have easily lost.”

I think most of us with a tactical background understand this was something of a fluke. Generally speaking, you don’t bring a nothing to a gunfight and expect to win. It can happen, but you don’t make “use your bare hands to take down a guy with an AK-47” your Plan A. I know this because I have training, experience, and a brain. The blithering idiots at Addicting Info, however, looked at this fluke, consulted fellow blithering idiots who know nothing about lethal force, and published an article titled Proving The Best Defense Is A Good Guy WITHOUT A Gun, Unarmed U.S. Soldiers Foil French Gunman.


I’m pretty sure Addicting Info’s writers are literally the dumbest people on earth.

I don’t know much about AI’s writers or editors. I haven’t seen their IQ test results. I’m sure they’re all educated, and probably know many things about important topics like white privilege or microaggressions. But anyone who believes you’re better off unarmed when someone tries to shoot you with an AK has to be dumber than Forrest Gump. You have to be pretty far down the intelligence scale to write drivel like this:

“The least surprising thing about Friday’s events in France is the fact that the shooter was stopped by unarmed good samaritans. The idea that the best weapon against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun is pure NRA propaganda… It’s tough to imagine how things might have turned out differently if the two good samaritans were armed on that French train. Multiple guns would have just added to the chaos and potentially to the injury or body count.”

I guess if armed cops had been on that train, they would have been wrong to draw and fire. Since added chaos, more injured and dead, yada yada. Unassailable logic like that explains why police never ever use guns when they encounter mass murderers.

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If this unarmed takedown of a mass murderer “proves” unarmed defense is best, then all the following unsuccessful mass-murderer takedown attempts prove unarmed defense actually isn’t the “best defense”:

  • At the 1991 Killeen Luby’s massacre, unarmed restaurant patron Al Gratia charged mass murderer George Henard. Henard shot and killed him, then killed Gratia’s wife as she cradled her dead husband.
  • At Columbine, a 15-year old named Daniel Mauser pushed a chair at Eric Harris after Harris shot and wounded him. He was the only Columbine victim to resist in any way. Harris responded by shooting Mauser in the face, killing him.
  • At Sandy Hook Elementary, principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach were unarmed and approached Adam Lanza, ordering him to stop. He killed them both, then murdered four more adults and twenty children.
  • At the Santana High School shooting in California in 2001, an unarmed school security supervisor approached an armed 15-year old who had just murdered two students. The 15-year old shot the supervisor five times, then shot him again in the back when he turned and walked away.
  • At a high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in 2005, a student killed five students, a teacher and an unarmed security guard. One student fought back inside a classroom and stabbed the shooter in the stomach with a pencil. The shooter shot him three times in the face and neck, then continued shooting other students.
  • In 2006 at a high school in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, an unarmed principal and custodian wrestled a shotgun away from a student who walked into the school intent on committing murder. The student then pulled a pistol and shot the principal, who later died.
  • During the 2009 Fort Hood Massacre, three unarmed soldiers tried separately to charge Hasan. Two were killed, one was badly wounded.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that being unarmed when an aspiring mass murderer is shooting at you kind of sucks. While there have been numerous incidents where unarmed people took down armed murderers (for example, at the Gabby Giffords shooting in Arizona), that wasn’t because “the best way to take down a mass murderer is by physically attacking him”. In some cases, as in the Giffords shooting, the shooter can be in such close proximity to you that even if you’re armed, the best option is to wrestle his weapon away rather than draw your own.

I’m a cop and I’ve always got a gun; if I’m minding my own business in a convenience store and a criminal with a pistol suddenly comes around the corner, and is within arm’s reach, the best thing to do is probably attempt to disarm him before he can shoot me. I’ll go for my gun eventually, but the first priority is to get control of the criminal’s gun. THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT’S ALWAYS BEST TO GO HAND-TO-HAND AGAINST A GUN. It just means that not every situation is the same, and sometimes you don’t have time to go for a weapon. In almost every incident where unarmed people took down an armed murderer, it was because they had no other options. It wasn’t because they were better off unarmed.

I also notice that Addicting Info’s writers – tactical masterminds that they are – chose to ignore an extremely pertinent piece of information about why the three Americans were able to take down the terrorist in France: the terrorist’s weapon had malfunctioned, and he didn’t know how to clear it. At the time the men tackled him, he was holding an inoperable weapon. That gave the three Americans time to rush, disarm and beat the man unconscious.

Spencer Stone, one of the men who took down the terrorist, said, “I turned around and I saw he had what looked to be an AK-47, and it looked like it was jammed or wasn’t working.” Alek Skartalos, the National Guardsman, added, “He clearly had no firearms training whatsoever. If he knew what he was doing, or even just got lucky… we would have all been in trouble and probably wouldn’t be here today — along with a lot of other people.”


The failed French train attacker was like many mass murderers: untrained, unskilled, able to operate a weapon and kill defenseless victims but incapable of actually fighting. When his weapon malfunctioned, which semi- or fully-automatic weapons often do, he was clueless (this also happened with James Holmes during the Aurora theater shooting and with the Clackamas Mall shooter in Oregon). The aspiring terrorist’s complete lack of training and ability allowed three young, strong men, two of whom had military training and one of whom was an Afghanistan veteran, to take him down. As far as terrorist attacks go, it was nearly perfect. An incompetent idiot wanted to be a terrorist but sucked at it, and just happened to be near heroic men who didn’t hesitate to beat him senseless.

Do the morons at Addicting Info expect this in every attack? Do they think this perfect storm will happen every time? Or do they hate guns so much, and hate anyone who doesn’t hate guns so much, that they literally believe it’s better to be slaughtered in a terrorist attack than commit the evil act of returning fire? Are they too idiotic to realize this attack failed because the terrorist had about as much skill with a weapon as the entire staff of Addicting Info combined?

I’m really looking forward to Addicting Info’s next series of articles:

“Man with no seat belt survives fiery crash, proving you shouldn’t wear a seat belt!”

“My grandma is 100 years old and smokes every day, proving cigarettes make you live longer!”

“Unvaccinated child doesn’t get whooping cough, proving vaccines are unnecessary!”

“High school dropout becomes millionaire, proving all kids should drop out of school!”

“I had sex without birth control once and didn’t get pregnant, proving nobody needs birth control!”

Addicting Info writers, here’s a sincere invitation: meet me in Texas, and I’ll explain the realities of mass shootings. I’ll take you to the range. I’ll put you through scenario training. I’ll teach you about survival stress reactions. I’m serious about this. Come down, and I’ll open your eyes.

I know you’re actually intelligent people. But your ideological beliefs have so blinded you, you’re not willing to see objective reality even when it’s right in front of you. You’re choosing to be stupid about this. So please, either get some actual training and experience, or stop writing amazingly idiotic articles that only “prove” you have no idea what you’re talking about.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).



21 Responses to “What the French Train Attack Doesn’t Prove”

  1. I kinda’ think the AK was a micro-aggression. Hmmm. Just sayin’. The progressives never let the facts get in the way of a good story though.

  2. More: The shooter sounds like a knob. Fortunate for these guys that he wasn’t of the caliber of the Charlie Hebdo shooters who seem to have had some training.

    • 3 Mark W

      Bravo to the heros! I can relate to them for jumping up, not much else to do as one of them said on the news….either stand there and die, or fight back and die. They chose the latter. As for the criticism of the AI writers they deserved every bit of it that you pointed out and hopefully they will take your advice and “come on down” to walk the walk instead of talking the talk.

  3. 4 Douglas

    If I had to guess, I’d say that the Addicting Info writers are more than happy to remain in a state of willful ignorance. That seems to be a common thread in the anti-gun/progressive community. They would rather bury their heads in the ideological sand than accept a reality that challenges their beliefs.

  4. If AddictingInfo, Mother Jones, CSGV, Everytown, etc. want me and others to take their message seriously, let’s see them start sponsoring workshops in Krav Maga, Jiu-Jitsu, MCMAP, Model Mugging and other unarmed combatives methods, and certifying instructors to teach people how to successfully defend themselves without guns. Until then, the NRA is still the only major lobbying organization in the entire gun control debate that is putting their money where their mouth is by actually teaching people how they can have a fighting chance when the rubber meets the road…

    • Members of the anti-gun organizations you cited know they are far more likely to overdose on latte during an intense coffeehouse debate than ever use force to defend themselves or others. To them it’s all theory, not reality.

  5. 7 piotr1600

    AI is all about “The Narrative”, and ONLY about “The Narrative”.

    Their ideological blinders will *never* permit them to admit any form of error or that things in real life are usually more complicated and… ‘nuanced’, than the prog-leftist ideological bullshit they always spew.

  6. 8 RandyGC

    I agree they got lucky. But I think that the definition of “Luck=Preparedness + Opportunity” applies here. Without the mental preparedness to take action when the situation arose and the will to follow through, the goblin might have managed to get one of his weapons functional.

    Murphy plays both sides of the fence. Fortunately this time it was in the good guys favor.

    None of which detracts from the heroism of these men.

    • I agree. Plenty of other people could have gotten just as lucky, then stood there and done nothing until the luck ran out and the terrorist either cleared his weapon or drew his secondary.

  7. 10 Michmike

    I smell a rat! Ok Chris it seems that someone in the comments section of AI is plagerizing you. Gerard Van der Leun must have copy and pasted from your post and I did not see him give u credit. That bastard, the nerve! Lol.

    That really is too funny he cannot come up with his own clever lines.

    You should feel honored that of all the people he chose to copy you! Right? Lol lol

  8. I remember a saying from my cop days…I think it might have come from the Street Survival books: “Fortuitous outcomes reinforce poor tactics.”

    • Dave,

      That is an excellent observation. It brings to mind the response after the underwear bomber was arrested and inexplicably mirandized: “well he confessed, so what’s wrong with mirandizing a terrorist?”

  9. Ah, “politically motivated journalism” at it’s worst. I never understood how anyone could read something as bereft of logic as the AI article and not see it for what it is.

    I agree Chris, those three guys were extremely lucky. That doesn’t make them any less heroic, it still takes serious grit to charge a man holding an AK. However, luck is fickle, and can’t be relied upon. I would much rather rely upon “A good guy with a gun” (much more likely in a polite, armed society that values liberty) than something as unreliable as “luck”.

  10. 15 Danny

    I have been critical of the people who abuse their arms as if they were a “toy”, but I also think some “liberals” (I am not neocon) exaggerate regarding the control of weapons in United States, I can not deny that there lunatics they can use anytime to wreak havoc but they should learn about people who have managed to avoid massacres like the cases that you showed very good article Chris.

  11. Chris, sometimes a sheepdog doesn’t even know he’s a sheepdog until a wolf unexpectedly appears and the sheep freeze in fear. I’d say that’s what we witnessed with these three outstanding young men.

    Lucky or unlucky, trained or not, something in their basic psyche had them prepared to respond and act.

  12. 17 Vincent S.

    Hey Chris, great article as always.
    I totally agree with you because we must not forget that in that train, their were a British too and 2 French who had less luck because they finished at the hospital.
    Every situation is about luck. The 3 American had an opportunity to jump on the guy and they did, which is very courageous.

  13. 18 Danny

    I have a question Chris, why criminals when they murder innocent civilians commit suicide after, instead of having the “courage” to face the police?

  14. 19 Tony

    Danny, I think the answer is self-evident. These guys are cowards from the word go. Notice how they always go where they believe they will find no resistance, i.e. guns?

  15. 20 Mightypeon

    There was also unarmed and quite heroic resistance at the Beslan and Budjennovsk massacres in Russia. The heroes all died, their struggle may have allowed for some others to escape, but, against organized and battle hardened Chechen Jihadis who actually know how to fight/kill there was no chance for surprised and unarmed people.

    One should be aware that some people would still prefer to die on their feet fighting rather then get murdered on their knees, especially when the scum is explicitly going for your children.

  1. 1 Naked and Afraid: Fighting an Active Shooter When You are Unarmed | Active Response Training

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