Hollywood actor Liam Neeson waded into the debate around the Charlie Hebdo shootings, putting the blame squarely on the availability of guns in the United States.
At an event in Dubai, Neeson said: “First off, my thoughts and prayers and my heart are with the deceased, and certainly with all of France, yesterday. I’ve got a lot of dear friends in Paris. There's too many f---ing guns out there. Especially in America. I think the population is like, 320 million? There's over 300 million guns. Privately owned, in America. I think it's a f---ing disgrace. Every week now we're picking up a newspaper and seeing, 'Yet another few kids have been killed in schools.'"
Neeson’s comments are ironic given that the action star has made a living starring in films which frequently prominently feature guns and violence. The “Taken” franchise, in which Neeson plays the lead character who fights to recover his daughter from kidnappers, has collectively made nearly $700 million worldwide at the box office. Many marketing materials and posters for the Taken films prominently feature Neeson brandishing weapons.
Neeson, likely aware that this might be brought up, added in the same interview: "I grew up watching cowboy movies, loved doing that [gun gesture] with my fingers, 'Bang, bang, you're dead!' I didn't end up a killer. I think that's something the power of cinema can be."
It’s not the first time Neeson has jumped into the political fray. In 2014, Neeson previously spoke out in favor of gun control in the U.S., telling The Independent that he believed the U.S. should have stricter gun control laws.
“I am totally for gun control in the U.S.,” he told The Independent in an interview. “The population of America is roughly 300 million and there are 300 million guns in this country, which is terrifying. Every day we’re seeing some kid running rampant in a school. And do you know what the gun lobby’s response to Newtown was? The National Rifle Association’s official response was ‘If that teacher had been armed…’ It’s crazy. I’ll give Britain its dues, when they had the Dunblane massacre in Scotland, within 24 hours the gun laws were changed so you could not have a handgun.”
Also in 2014, Neeson criticized New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his proposal to do away with horse-drawn carriages in Central Park. In a New York Times op-ed, Neeson wrote that “an entire way of life and a historic industry are under threat.” He added: “We should ask whether this is the New York we want to live in: a sanitized metropolis, where local color and grit are thrown out in favor of sleek futuristic buildings and careening self-driving cars?”