• 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
'War crimes committed in Aleppo': French UN envoy
A tractor clears rubble after a government strike on rebel areas of Aleppo. Photo: Thaer Mohammed/ AFP

France's envoy to the United Nations has called for an urgent Security Council meet on the war crimes he asserts are being committed in Aleppo.

'Curse of Phantom' strikes as Paris theatre burns
Anthony Crivello and Elizabeth Loyacano in the New York production of Phantom of the Opera. Photo: Really Useful Group

The curse of Phantom of the Opera has struck with a fire at a Paris theatre threatening the musical's French debut.

Two teenage girls held in France over 'terror plot'
The girls came from the same part of Nice, near Route de Turin, as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who carried out the nice attacks. Photo: Jesmar/Wikimedia Commons

Two teenage girls from Nice are being held on suspicion of planning a jihadi attack.

Focus
French fighter jet deal: India 'a school of patience'
Rafale jets at an assembly hanger in Merignac, southwestern France. Photo: Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP

The less-than-supersonic sale of French Rafale fighter jets to India has highlighted the obstacles facing foreign arms firms seeking to do business with the world's biggest weapons importer.

Hollande vows to 'completely dismantle' Calais Jungle
French President Francois Hollande visiting a refugee centre in Tours. Photo: Guillaume Souvant/AFP

President Francois Hollande has bowed to right-wing pressure and stepped up pledge to combat illegal migration.

First driverless minibus goes on trial in Paris
Gilbert Gagnaire, Director General of Easy Mile, poses in front of his driverless EZ10 minibus. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

The French capital's transport authority will carry out its first test of a driverless minibus on Saturday.

Feature
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
Receptionist Ivan Lopez in his tiny "chambre de bonne". Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Thousands of Parisians round off a hard day's work with a trudge up six flights of stairs to a tiny, stuffy room they resignedly call home.

Former president Chirac still in hospital but wife home
Bernadette Chirac executes a deal at the French Stock Exchange on September 12. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

Former French president Jacques Chirac remains in hospital in Paris but his wife Bernadette has now been discharged.

Pope holds multi-faith meeting with Nice victims
Pope Francis kisses a baby on arrival at his weekly audience in St Peter's Square. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/ AFP

Pope Francis will on Saturday hold a multi-faith meeting of grieving relatives and survivors of an attack in France in July when a jihadist ploughed his truck into a crowd in Nice.

Cameron school pal appointed UK ambassador to France
Ed Llewellyn has spent time in the European Commission. Photo: Gov.uk

Ed Llewellyn attended the Eton College at the same time as former PM David Cameron, and then served as his chief of staff throughout his eleven years as Conservative leader.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
National
France among Europe's priciest for train travel
National
Paris set to make river bank car-free for six-month trial
Society
Bordeaux hospital ranked as best in France
National
France rolls out 'world's first' driverless buses
Society
15 things a Frenchwoman can do to feel more British
Culture
Every fact you need to know about France's 'départements'
2,730
jobs available