Liam Neeson, the star of the shoot-em-up Taken franchise, has denounced gun laws in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killing in Paris. During an interview with Gulf News, the Irish actor - who has thrived in the action genre in recent years - maintained that violent movies were not the problem.

Liam NeesonLiam Neeson [L] - the star of the Taken movies - has spoken out against gun laws

"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," said the actor, "There's too many guns out there.Especially in America. I think the population is like, 320 million? There's over 300m guns. Privately owned, in America. I think it's a disgrace. Every week now we're picking up a newspaper and seeing, 'Yet another few kids have been killed in schools.'"

"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," added Neeson.

"A character like Bryan Mills [Taken] going out with guns and taking revenge: it's fantasy. It's in the movies, you know? I think it can give people a great release from stresses in life and all the rest of it, you know what I mean? It doesn't mean they're all going to go out and go, 'Yeah, let's get a gun!'"

More: read our full review of Taken 3

On the Predatormasters gun forum, users criticized Neeson's apparent hypocrisy, with one user musing: "Guess I can scratch Liam Neeson films off the list of things to watch from this point forward. It's one thing to be a pompous british blowhard a like Piers Morgan and talk trash about American Gun Owners, but when you shoot up as many people as Liam Neeson does in his films, taking such a position simply elevates you to the level of hypocritical pompous british ass."

The Taken movies, created by the French filmmaker Luc Besson, have made almost $700 million worldwide. The recent third outing opened at No.1 in both the US and UK despite awful reviews.

"'Taken 3' is so unintentionally hilarious I couldn't help but wonder - do movie contracts carry a humiliation bonus clause these days?" said Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times. 

More: Liam Neeson to use a particular set of skills in Taken 3