• 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
Milk price raised, but French farmers still unhappy
The sign on the tractor reads 'We're dying', as farmers blocked Lactalis dairy headquarters. Photo: AFP

Milk prices have been raised by France's biggest dairy group to placate farmers, but unions say their demands have not been met.

France's top court suspends burqini ban
Photo: bellmon1/Flickr

France's highest administrative court has suspended a town's ban on wearing the full-body burqini swimsuit.

Burqini bans 'dividing France's Muslim women'
Photo: AFP

The burqini bans have divided France, but they have also left Muslim women in France in two groups, argues a professor who has spent years studying the impact of the burqa.

Pizza-delivery drones could be on their way to France
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's your pizza. Photo: AFP

No more need to deal with grumpy French waiters...

Heatwave drags on as France faces red-hot weekend
Photo: AFP

France will see searing temperatures on Friday and Saturday, as the heatwave warnings have been extended (once again).

Nice: The French capital of burqini fines
The beach in the Riviera city of Nice. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

It's one of only two of the 30 towns with a burqini ban in place to have actually given out any fines.

How to make France's famed Île Flottante dessert
Photo: Paul Oatway

France-based food blogger Laura Tobin shares her recipe for this delicious French dessert.

France's top court set to rule on burqini ban
Photo: bellmon1/Flickr

France's highest administrative court will decide this afternoon whether to overturn the burqini ban.

Corsica bushfire leaves 500 hectares scorched
Photos: AFP

A massive fire left 500 hectares of bushland in Corsica ravaged.

View from the rue
What do Parisians think of France's burqini bans?
Photo: AFP

With 64 percent of the French against burqinis at the beach, what do the Parisians think?

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Education
French schools to ramp up security with 'mock attacks'
Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Features
Where to go in France to find the best ice cream
National
Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
Society
Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Politics
Déja vu? Familiar faces in France's presidential race
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Meet the man paying off burqini fines in France
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
2,751
jobs available