Regardless of how you feel about their cartoons, no one has argued that the murder of 12 people in the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is anything less than a tragedy. But aside from the debate of whether we should all be proud to declare “Je Suis Charlie” or not, another question has emerged here in Texas: How would the cartoonists and editors at the French magazine have fared if they’d all been armed?

That’s the question posed by the gun rights organization The Truth About Guns, which offers reviews of guns and gear, critical analysis of gun control arguments, and more. On Tuesday night, the organization staged a simulation of the Charlie Hebdo attacks at Patriot Protection in Plano, inviting gun owners to see how they might have done had they been armed during an invasion like the one that occurred in Paris. 

Thirty volunteers gathered in Plano to go through the simulation, which was performed a dozen times. As the Dallas Morning News reports

Amanda Dodd, chief financial officer for Patriot Protection, said the re-creation was designed to provide data about what might have prevented the massacre of 12 people last week.

“There are so many people out there saying, ‘Yes, a gun would have saved lives’ or ‘No, a gun wouldn’t have done anything,’” she said. “We have the ability to provide real hard data about whether that would have impacted or not.”

Dodd said Patriot Protection did online research and reviewed videos of the Paris incident to try to outline an accurate layout of the Charlie Hebdo office space.

Volunteers sat in makeshift offices separated by partitions that outlined a long hallway leading to a conference table, where other people were gathered. One person at a time was placed in the conference room with a nonlethal pistol as two masked men barged into the office.

It’s worth noting, of course, that any re-enactment of an encounter like the one in Paris is going to be missing one of the key elements—no one sitting in the Charlie Hebdo office knew what was coming that day, while the gun owners in Plano went in specifically prepared for an attack. Still, as simulations go, it was as accurate as you’re liable to find. So how did they do?

Over at The Truth About Guns website, the organization doesn’t mince words: “Charlie Hebdo Shooting Sim Shows More Than One Gun Is Needed” is the title of the post that recaps the re-enactment, as none of the participants were able to stop both of the shooters. In fact, according to a recap of the event from KXAN, only two of the gun enthusiasts at the event were able to stop even one shooter. 

Time and time again, that armed civilian dies — shot by a round that marks him or her with paint. In only two cases, they were able to take out one of two gunmen in the process.

“It’s interesting to see how people react under stress,” said gun owner Nick Leghorn. “It’s not what you’d expect people do.”

A group called The Truth About Guns organized the simulation, hoping to learn how things might have been different in Paris — or any other mass shooting. […]

In the end, only one of the 12 volunteer victims in the exercise survived. And it was because she ran away. No one was able to take out both mock shooters.

In other words, a “good guy with a gun” might be able to stop one shooter, but you’re going to need a more heavily-armed society to have a chance if more than one person is shooting—even if the civilians are fully aware of what’s about to happen to them. 

That may shed some light on the recent decision by the Texas Legislature to quickly pass a rule installing “panic buttons” in their offices, after some contentious encounters with members of an open carry organization left some members of government uncomfortable. The idea of someone armed with a rifle barging into a lawmaker’s office is a bit disconcerting to our leaders, even if most of them are vocal supporters of gun rights—but the fact that they opted to install panic buttons rather than, say, pass a rule requiring each legislator to keep a loaded weapon within reach in his or her own office is telling: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a panic button under the desk” isn’t exactly a bumper sticker-worthy slogan, but as The Truth About Guns’s re-enactment showed, a good guy with a gun isn’t necessarily going to get the job done, anyway. 

(screenshot via