Five things to know about guns in France

Five things to know about guns in France
Photo: AFPs
France has strict gun control laws, but illegal weapons are widespread and these have been used in most of the deadly terror attacks in the country in recent years. The Local looks at some other facts about guns in France that might surprise you.

1. French people must undergo psychological test before getting gun licence

Unlike in the United States, which has just had its worst ever mass shooting that left 59 people dead in Las Vegas, there is no right to bear arms in France.

To own a gun, you first need to acquire a hunting or sporting licence, and this has to be regularly renewed and requires a psychological evaluation. Applicants with any criminal record are automatically refused.

There is also a blacklist of around 18,000 people who are banned from owning a gun.

(A strange notice outside a French polling station. AFP)

2. French gun ownership among highest in the world
France is in 12th place in the world in the rankings of gun ownership, according to the Small Arms Survey. The estimated total number of guns held by civilians – both legally and illegally – in France is around 10 million, according to figures published last year by Gun Policy, a project run by the University of Sydney.
But other studies say that there may be as many 20 million weapons owned by civilians in the nation of 65 million people.
French hunter shoots pensioner dead after mistaking him for a wild boar
3. Hunters own most of the legal weapons in France
Millions of these weapons are owned by hunters, who number around one million and make France the biggest hunting country in Europe. 
In the last hunting season that ended in May, 18 people were killed in hunting accidents. Two more have been accidentally shot dead in the current season that opened in mid-September.
4. Millions of illegal weapons 
France is awash with illegal weapons, with some experts saying that the number of illegal guns may be twice the number of legal ones.
Weapons such as Kalashnikovs, many of which were originally used in the Balkan wars in the 1990s, can be bought for less than 3,000 euros on the black market. 
Kalashnikovs are the weapon of choice in deadly score-settling between rival drug gangs in the southern port city of Marseille.
The assault rifles were also the main weapon used in the radical Islamist terror attacks in France in recent years.
The worst single mass shooting took place in the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in November 2015, when gunmen sprayed concert-goers with bullets, killing 89 of them. Dozens more were killed in other attacks the same night in the French capital.
5. 1,800 French die each year in gun-related incidents
France has in recent years had an average of 1,800 firearms deaths each year, compared to the average of 33,000 gun-related deaths each year recently in the United States.