Reader Question: Who has the right to carry a firearm on their person in France?
Very few people are allowed to bear arms in France. Permitted groups include:
- Serving police officers, including those belonging to the police municipal, police de l’environnement, Vigipirate and the gendarmerie
- Judges, although very few do carry such a weapon
- Certain security guards, including some bodyguards
Laurent Franck Liénard, who is an expert in French legislation on weapons, also told Franceinfo that people who have been subject to very serious and precise threats to their personal safety are allowed to carry arms if they have decided not to employ the services of a bodyguard.
What about hunters?
Hunters are permitted to obtain a gun, transport it and use it but only while out hunting.
When they buy the weapon, they must declare it to their local prefecture, which will carry out a risk assessment, a police check and a background check to determine whether they have been involved with any violent crimes or alcohol-related issues in the past 10 years.
Hunters may own semi-automatic firearms which load another round of cartridge into the chamber without action from the shooter, but whose trigger must be pulled for each shot.
This is in comparison to an automatic weapon, which fires continuous rounds when the trigger is pulled.
However, semi-automatic firearms can only be bought if a person has a licence and they must have spent at least six months as part of a shooting club.
They must also have no criminal record, as well as undergoing a background check by the police.
Finally, it is forbidden to carry these weapons around but permitted to transport them to shooting ranges and keep them at home in secured containers.
France has a blacklist of around 20,000 people who are banned from owning a gun, and imposes a penalty of €75,000 and five years in prison on those who break this ban.