• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Guns in France: Now security guards could be armed
Security guards searching spectators at a football match in November. All photos: AFP

Guns in France: Now security guards could be armed

The Local · 4 Mar 2016, 16:08

Published: 04 Mar 2016 16:08 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Mar 2016 16:08 GMT+01:00

France's Interior Ministry will create an ‘enhanced’ security officer status, giving private security guards the right to carry weapons around sensitive sites, according to a report in Le Figaro on Wednesday.

The move is expected to apply to hundreds or possibly even thousands of private security guards across the country who patrol sites including theatres, nuclear plants and sports grounds.

In fact, French law currently allows security guards to be armed “under certain conditions with the approval of the prefectures”, but in practice it is rare for prefectures to issue gun licences - a process the new legislation would make much easier.

The few private security guards who currently carry weapons include those charged with protecting the Charlie Hebdo officers, those working at some Parisian housing estates - who have been authorized to use batons and defence sprays - and those who escort vans carrying cash.

But after last year's twin terrorist attacks in Paris authorities have looked at possibly making it easier for some security guards to have the right to carry guns.

The Ministry of Interior, the police,  the Directorate of Civil Liberties and Legal Affairs (DLPAJ), the National Council of Private security activities (CNaPS), which has long called for security guards to be given the right to carry guns have been looking at the possibilities.

France to allow off-duty police to carry arms

Now the Interior Ministry is working on the official text, Le Figaro says, to define the conditions for approval, training and checks of the guards.

This move, if it goes ahead, would be just the latest post-terror attacks measure taken by the French government to get more officers of law and order carrying guns.

"It's surprising for a country like France because we don't have a trigger happy culture," French terror expert François Bernard Huyghe told The Local.

"It obviously doesn't come without a certain amount of risk and there would have to be strict controls on these people," he said.

"What are the chances of them actually using one to kill a terrorist? It's more for reassurance and the government wants to be seen to be acting," he added.

Another French terror expert Jean-Charles Brisard said it makes sense to arm security officers if it frees up under pressure police to do other work.

 In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, France began moves to arm all police officers even when off-duty.

“We must have the means to be able to fight back,” said Denis Jacob, a police union leader.

“We cannot be telling off-duty police officers not to carry their weapons when at the same time the president has declared a state of emergency because there is a high risk of terrorism,” he added.

“I don’t understand the claim that if police officers are armed 24 hours a day then the streets will be full of cowboys,” he said.

And the government has not only allowed off-duty cops to carrying their guns, they have also been encouraging of the country's 3,900 municipal police to be armed.

In France the national police and the gendarmes are armed but it is left down to local authorities in towns and villages whether or not to arm the municipal police.

Currently only around 45 percent of the 3,900 municipal police carry weapons, but given the heightened terror alert and the changing nature of their role, the president wants that number increased.

Story continues below…

Hollande told a meeting of mayors that the government will finance certain equipment and that municipal officers would be able to access the stocks of arms held by the national police. 

Paris police to be equipped with assault rifles

The government's efforts to improve the armed response of the police was also evident when the Interior Minister announced on Monday that Parisian police would for the first time be given assault rifles and Kalashnikov-resistant shields.

"It's a surprising that a Socialist government is taking these steps, because they are normally hostile to arms," said Huyghe. "However we are still very far from a scenario of every Frenchman carrying a gun like in the US," said Huyghe.

READ MORE: How France plans to boost police powers


 

 

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
BREAKING
Ten children struck by lightning in Paris park
Photo: AFP

Eleven people including ten children have been injured by lightning during a thunderstorm at Parc Monceau in Paris on Saturday.

What to expect when working in a bar in Paris
Photo: Fabrizio Morrola/Flickr

Fancy the idea of a bar job in Paris? There are a few things you need to know first, writes bartender Lauren Belcher.

Five key tips to opening a bank account in France
Photo: Dave Dugdale/Flickr

Avoid the headaches. Read this before opening a bank account in France.

Afghan migrant killed by lorry in Calais
French riot police guard a truck after migrants tried to mount several trucks near the Eurotunnel, near Calais earlier this year. Photo: AFP

A 25-year-old Afghan migrant was killed by a lorry on a motorway near the French port city of Calais in the early hours of Saturday, according to officials.

French PM Valls stakes political career on union fight
A demonstrator wears a sticker featuring France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls last week in Nantes, western France, during a protest against government planned labour law reforms. Photo: AFP

Engaged in a fierce tug of war with unions and some of his own party over labour reforms, France's embattled Prime Minister Manuel Valls has staked his political career on staring down the crisis.

Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Photos: AFP

A series of ongoing strikes in France could continue to affect the country throughout the Euro 2016 tournament, which starts in just two weeks.

Fuel crisis eases as French police unblock depots
Tires on fire in front of an oil depot near the Total refinery of Donges, western France, on Friday. Photo: AFP

After a week of fuel shortages in France, things are improving in time for the weekend.

Opinion - French strikes
'Stop pissing everyone off': French boss to union chief
Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT union. Photo: AFP

In an open letter to the man attempting to bring France to a standstill, a business owner tells him to stop "living in the past" and stop "pissing everyone off".

Want a '30-hour work week'? Move to Paris (or Lyon)
Lunchtime in Paris? Photo: reynermedia/Flickr

Workers in Paris and Lyon put in the fewest hours out of 71 major cities around the world. Lazy or supremely efficient.

The nations the French love to make fun of the most
Photo: Romain Seignovert

The British are not the French's top target, believe it or not.

National
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
'You're not welcome': French police chief warns English yobs
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
It's Neighbours' Day! But what does it all mean?
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
National
A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
2,737
jobs available