People in France who possess an undeclared weapon – which they have perhaps found or inherited – will be able to give them up or register them over a week-long period without facing penalties, the government has announced.
The interior ministry estimates that two million people illegally own between five and six million weapons. “These weapons are sleeping in a cellar, an attic, a wardrobe and sometimes until the bed,” said Jean-Simon Merandat of the Service central des armes et des explosifs (Scae) government body.
The service is launching an “unprecedented and historic” campaign designed to make it easier for people to hand in these illegal weapons and take them out of circulation.
The objective is to avoid them being used in situations of domestic abuse or neighbour disputes. Getting rid of undeclared weapons will also mean that they cannot be stolen during a burglary, which happens to 8,000 weapons each year.
Mr Merandat said that the arms then “reach criminal networks”.
Between November 25 and December 2, it will be possible either to declare illegally held weapons or to surrender them, as 300 collection sites are set up across France. These places will be open from 09:00 until 17:00, seven days a week.
Some 5,000 officers are mobilised in gendarmeries, police stations, stadiums and shooting clubs. The Fédération des chasseurs has also pledged to provide volunteers.
Getting rid of a weapon
If you have an undeclared weapon that you want to get rid of – whether a gun, knife, sword, ammunition or other equipment – you can go to one of these sites and hand it in.
However, it will not be possible to go to one of these collection points with a grenade, shell, explosives or an engin de guerre war weapon.
If you have one of these objects, your prefecture will have put in place a specific helpline number through which you can ask a mine-sweeping unit to come and collect it from your home.
This phone number will also help people with reduced mobility, those who do not have the means of transport to get to a collection point or who live in Paris and the surrounding area.
The weapons will then be destroyed, unless they have cultural or historical value.
Registering a weapon
Those who wish to keep their weapon can declare it without going to a collection point. Instead, they should “take photos, which will enable them to enter them into the interior ministry system,” Mr Merandat said.
They will also need their ID and proof of address, and will then be able to complete the process online.
Mr Merandat has said that there will be no consequences for those who choose to give away or register their weapons.
“We are targeting a population which is far from any form of delinquency: honest people acting in good faith. They will want to make their situation legal.”