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By Sebastian O. [Originally published on April 12, 2012]

So, you’re thinking about moving to France, sitting under the Eiffel Tower, sipping a café au lait and contemplating the meaning of life. Come right across the big pond…but make sure to leave your artillery at home. Owning firearms in France and using them for sport, hunting, and self-defense makes New York City laws look tame in comparison and there is no second amendment to protect the rights of French gun owners. This post is meant as a basic introduction to the nonsensical jungle of French gun laws, sports shooting, and hunting and was inspired by last year’s TTAG break-down of German gun laws . . .

While France consistently ranks among the top countries for per capita civilian gun ownership worldwide, closely behind its Teutonic neighbors to the east and Vikings to the north, French gun ownership is heavily regulated by placing weapons into different categories based on their function and caliber.

Weapons categories range from the 1ère catégorie that includes fully-automatic weapons and fighter jets to the 8ème catégorie of historic and collectible weapons. Yes, that’s right, fighter planes and full-auto rifles are in the same weapons category under French law. Go figure.

To simplify the explanation of French gun categories, it is best to divide them into the four “European” categories that will likely be adopted in the coming two years, as new gun regulations passed the French parliament in 2012 and are waiting to be signed into law.

Category A – Prohibited Firearms

Category A is a big no-no and includes everything from tanks to fighter planes. Most importantly it prohibits the ownership of fully-automatic firearms for civilians, so if you were thinking of visiting France to get some trigger time behind a FAMAS, think again. Of course, this hasn’t stopped gangs in French cities from getting their hands on some surplus Yugo-AKs or the terrorist Mohammed Mehra from acquiring an Uzi, but that’s a topic for another day.

Category B – Subject to Authorization

Category B includes anything shorter than 47cm, including handguns, or semi-automatic, with a removable magazine and a capacity larger than three rounds, and requires a sports shooting license to own. How do you get a sports shooting license? Be an active shooting club member and hit the range at least three times a year, go see a doctor every year who attests that you are physically and mentally capable of owning a firearm and prepare for some major paperwork.

Once you have cleared the hurdles of French bureaucracy, prepare to rinse and repeat every three years, as category B ownership is contingent on a time-limited authorization that can be revoked at a whim by the local police. Case in point: pump-action shotguns. Once available to hunters in category C, they were reclassified to category B in 1995 because of their perceived use in violent crimes.

Owners who did not want to become sports shooters and acquire the necessary three-year licenses had to turn them in to be destroyed, with some sources claiming as high as 500.000 weapons meeting an early demise. To illustrate how little sense the law made, it was only applied to smooth bore pump-action shotguns, so a rifled Maverick 88 is still in category C because it is considered a manually-repeating rifle rather than a shotgun.

Category C – Subject to Declaration

Category C is the universe of hunting weapons with everything from bolt-action rifles and lever guns to three-round limited, semi-automatic weapons with tilting non-detachable magazines – think California, only worse. Ownership is for life but, as was the case for pump guns, French gun owners are always just one movie franchise-reboot away from seeing an entire group of firearms moved into a higher category.

Category C weapons can be acquired with either a sports shooting license or a hunting license and must be declared to the local police office for firearms and explosives. Unlike sports shooting licenses, hunting licenses require you to take a theory and practice exam that covers areas such as safety, laws, huntable and protected species and even questions on different dog breeds. However, all of this can be done with two weeks of studying and a day of exams, a far cry from the regulations in other European countries like Germany, where getting a hunting permit can take anywhere from a month to a year of intensive instruction.

Category D – Other

Category D basically includes everything that couldn’t be squeezed into the previous three categories, such as pellet guns under 10 joules (over 10 is category C).

What does that mean for the gun owner in France? Pure silliness is the best way to describe it. You need a three-year renewable police authorization and a shrink-check to own a single-shot 22. sporting pistol but you only need a life-time hunting license to buy and declare indefinite ownership of a 6+1 Marlin lever-gun in 45.70.

It gets better though, as you can buy and own a category C lever-rifle in 357. magnum but you can’t buy the ammo because it’s category B…oops. No worries though, 44. magnum is fine, the ammo and the rifle are both in category C. Makes sense right?

Let’s not forget that all .223, .308, .30-06, and even .303 British ammo is category B, meaning it is inaccessible to hunters, while significantly less dangerous calibers such as 300 WM are in category C.

Transporting your guns

To transport or carry your firearms, you need what is called a motif légitime. So if you are a sports shooter you can transport it, locked or disassembled, to and from the range or the gun store – that’s about it. If you are a hunter, you can carry your category C long gun during approved hunting periods and hours and on the property for which you have your tags.

You might as well forget about carrying a firearm for self-defense. That requires an entirely different permit process that makes California concealed-carry look like a cake-walk. Think judges in criminal trials, high-ranking politicians, and people with enough political grease but certainly not your average Jacques.

Overall, the hurdles for French gun ownership are high by US standards, but they could be worse. At least we aren’t as screwed as the English – yet.


Sebastian O. is a German-born sports shooter, firearms enthusiast, and aspiring hunter who moved to France ten years ago to study abroad. There he fell under the spell of Paris and a beautiful woman and never ended up leaving.

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  1. It’s the same problem for us in Belgium, complicated gun laws to make you loose the envy to buy one. And even self defense non-lethal things like pepper-spray, expandable baton are illegal. But bad guys can buy AK’s in eastern europe without too much problem. Sick of Europe.. (and that’s just one of the many reasons)

    • That’s one the things I don’t understand about many places in Europe (and Australia). Acquiring a firearm requires going through a lot of red tape (and that’s just for a hunting rifle or hunting shotgun), and carrying a firearm for defense is pretty much a straight-up No, yet they ban non-lethal ways for citizens to protect themselves, i.e. pepper spray, batons, stun guns. Anti-firearms is one thing, but anti-self defense is just sickening.

      • anti self-defense is the reason for most europeans to be anti-gun. the european states are build upon the frear of their subjects. every time something horrible happens, that fear is used to enact even more restrictive laws. just like in the us, but without the protection you have by the 2nd amendement. fear generating more fear and thus generating more powers for the gouvernments is what drives the gun/weapon-politics in europe. illegalizing the tools for non-lethal self defense is just the necessary sequel to illegalizing lethal tools for self defense.

      • You don’t understand because you firmly believe in natural rights of self-protection; Which is a vague concept in many places of Eurasia continent because of prolong monarchy system. If the royalties want you to die, you shut up and get killed, if princes want to rape you, you learnt to enjoy it, and that goes on for thousands of years, that mindset stuck with people so is the legal system.

        Someone wants to kill you? fine, get killed, the legal system will sort it out for you after your funeral service. Don’t like it? you are dead, who cares ?

        • not true. self-defense laws in the times of the monarchies made much more sense. simple example: in the german empire from 1871-1918, you could own a gun with almost no laws infringing what you could buy, carry or use in self defense. the very first law in germany which was restricting gun ownership in any meaningfull way was enacted in 1938, 20 years after wilhelm II. abdiction. our “democracys” nowadays are much more restrictive in that area than any monarchy i knew ever was, at least in the last 200 years. (i’m talking about real monarchys with emperors, kings and princes actually playing a part in political affairs, not these representative look-like-monarchy we have in some countrys nowaday.) i don’t like monarchys, but it’s not fair to blame them for our current inability to defend ourselfs. that shit purely came from the “democratic” gouvernments and, in some cases, from their facist predecessors.

        • one correction to the above. i remembered wrong, the first significiant gun laws came into effect in 1919, still after the end of monarchy.

      • Most European countries ban “self defence” weapons in order to stop criminals carrying them and using them.
        Although illegal guns can be obtained by criminals quite easily in Britain, very few crimes are committed with them. As a result, police on the street are not armed and they don’t want to be.
        Gun laws are often complicated as layer upon layer is added and a muddle evolves. What is needed is a fresh start to controls which are clear and easy to understand.
        I can see where the French are coming from in banding weapons in order of perceived danger or use by criminals. It just seems too complex and ill thought through.

        • Criminals don’t need to use the guns they have if they know that their victims will always be soft targets. The gun is only needed to protect against other criminals. That is why gun crime is lower but violent crime is actually higher in Europe than in the USA.

        • Neil,
          You jump from a statement on all of Europe to the UK (a couple of Islands) when you state most police do not carry guns. Sorry but Europe has more ARMED law enforcement per capita than the US has, not less.

    • Visited my home country of Albania last summer. Germany won the world cup and in Shkodër people shot automatic rifles in celebration. Even though Albania has gun laws, everyone raided the armorers after gov. collapse in the 90s. So you have Eastern European countries where even I, as a non-citizen foreigner, could have easily acquired a FA AK (though not legally) and the Western European countries where in some you can’t even carry pepper spray for defense, let alone own a handgun for the home.

      Even if the UN took over and firearm laws as strict as those in Germany existed across the world, it would do literally nothing. Not to mention that firearms (and projectile weapons in general) are likely the reason (or a part of it) that humans evolved to be the much more peaceful species we are now. When anyone, even an eight year old girl, can kill a strong warrior in a near instant, well diplomacy seems much more ideal.

      • If knowledge of The Albanian Genocide still exists, no Albanian in his right mind would ever permit himself to be disarmed.

        • The saddest thing is hearing my relatives here in liberal America (NJ/NY) praise disarmament and denouncing firearms. I’ve had cousins tell me I am crazy.

          I always remind them of the Albanian heroes they praise Ded Gjo Luli, Isa Boletini, etc. all would have never succeeded in freeing Albania if they had been disarmed. Adem Jashari, Kosovo freedom fighter, would have never succeeded in helping the KLA liberate Kosovo (aaaaand a bombing campaign from the US) without firearms.

          Albania has widespread firearm ownership, but poor firearm safety and knowledge and poor defense from government disarmament. Sometimes I am tempted to start a NRA style Association there with some friends I have over there. I wonder if it would catch on?

        • Nobody still living in Yugoslavia is stupid enough to be unarmed. Illegally of course, legal arms aren’t that usefull except as a way to legally buy ammo (hint:that 7.62×39 you use in your legal&registered mini-Mauser or CZ also works in your illegal/unregistered AK). Since there is a big chance of them getting confiscated.

          Though I am embarassed at how stupid some of my fellow countrymen are. You survive a war, genocide and whatnot and you think that having guns are bad. It is baffling and embarassing.

      • They certainly can be successful in reducing crime with guns, significantly or even nearly absolutely but the caveat that the rest of the world and much of America is refusing to see is that it can’t simply be “common sense gun laws” it can’t even be just a total gun ban with harsh penalties. Our other freedoms must be disposed of first. ‘They’ must be able to silence the likes of TTAG and the countless other gun blogs and websites since words have such power. This already happens in European democracies. From banning books to censoring TV and movies. Protections against search and seizure must be eliminated. As albaniaaaa said, people manage to possess illegal arms years or decades after their banning. This also is common in much of the world and is steadily becoming accepted here. The concept of innocent too proven guilty is a hindrance that arguably allows countless criminals to go free and possibly emboldens others. While more efficient procedures would result in many times more misconcvictions the prosecution of actual criminals will likely go up as well. Voting? That just allows for opposing parties to interfere, see how the world jeers the U.S. for its cumbersom slow to progress balanced republic. I can think of no other country in the world that holds those rights in the same esteeme as the united states.

        • They did that in albaina we still have guns illegally besides if your smart you won’t let hour guns fall out your hands

    • We have just seen how incredibly effective the French gun laws are at disarming the law-abiding! Twelve people killed in the offices of a French satiric newspaper that apparently offended some Islamic terrorists in Paris.

      “Gunmen stormed the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris Wednesday and opened fire, killing at least 12 people in what French authorities are calling the worst terror attack in four decades. The masked gunmen shouted Islamist slogans and exchanged gunfire with police as they fled, and a massive manhunt for the suspects is underway. Follow Yahoo News’ live coverage.”

      Gee, I wonder if their AK-47s were legally acquired in compliance with French gun laws?

  2. Reading a summary of the gun laws pretty much anywhere outside the US always reminds me that I still have a lot to be thankful for (more than just gun law, but it is representative). Thank you.

  3. Eh, I’ve met some Frenchmen online with cat B licenses. It’s annoying to get and maintain, but it’s doable. IIRC, at least the authorities don’t start getting picky about SBRs and suppressors once you’re one of the anointed. I’d prefer the French system over the “you can’t have it ever, peon” system of CA and other ban states.

    • I tried to purchase a .357 magnum revolver made in France and the rules for export were so difficult, the FFL dealer said it was like trying to get a fighter plane. I never got the hand gun. MR 73 revolver.

    • “I’d prefer the French system over the “you can’t have it ever, peon” system of CA and other ban states.”
      Which is very similar to choosing being beheaded over being drawn-and-quartered. The process may be slightly more appealing, but the result (surrendering of rights) is no less distasteful.

    • No offense (actually I really couldnt care if this offends)… “I’d prefer the French system over the “you can’t have it ever, peon” system of CA and other ban states.” is the exact kind of attitude that got CA, CT, NY, NJ, etc to where they are today.

      It never ceases to amaze me when people are like “wahhh, I dont like the ATF they wont let me have my silencerzzzzz, I wish we had lawz like Europe so I could buy me a silencer at the corner sporting goods store boohooohoooo”… No you dont! Thats absurd, never mind the fact that getting a gun or hutning license in Europe make the NFA look minescule in comparison.

      The laws (not just those pertaining to gun ownership) in Europe SUCK monumentally, life there is so needlessly complicated and expensive because the government is there regulating every single step of every single day, and you can forget anything resembling personal property rights there. So no, I do not wish our laws ever even come close to Europe, and would not trade a single law we have here for one over there, what ignorant bullshit! Our laws, and life over here, yes even in California, are WAYY better. Complacency or merely being satisfied that they didn’t take everything away from you is pointless, and contributes to the erosion of personal freedom.

      • This is True, Tex. I do come from Italy, and was a firearms owner there. Though my collection there amount to about 70 firearms, it was a nightmare. Now I am in California, which is for some aspects, more complicated than Italy (once obtained the license in Italy, I could go to the store and buy – and bring home – any number of rifles or pistols at once; in California, one pistol at a time and every 40 days). I just hope here in the US the 2nd Amendment will keep us protected. I have seen (and we still see it daily) what being unarmed can cause.

  4. You forgot to mention that as of right now the number of category 1 and 4 (future category B) is limited to a total of 7 firearms … and there is a limit of 1000 rounds per year (of course everybody reloads …).

    The new law was voted in last month, but will become applicable in a year or 2 afar the details are written in such as which weapons in which category. We still don’t know if weapons in 7,62×39 will stay in category B or be banned altogether because AKs are evil … it happened before with the pump action shotguns as you mentioned.

    • That is correct, you may only own a total of 12 category B weapons (currently categorie 1 et 4) and only 7 of those can be center-fire rifles, with a 1000-round per year limit. You can get exemptions but it’s a major pain the ass for sports shooters who go through that amount in about a week.

      As for the license, yes it’s doable but it’s a pain in the behind compared to many U.S. states. It takes the three controlled training sessions at your club, approval from your club president, approval from the police, and some serious paper work – not to forget the annual shooting license renewal.

      On the bright side, there is no such thing as limits on SBRs or magazines and silencers are just considered pieces of metal; you can pick them up without any firearm license or registration. Buying guns online, especially for category C, is as easy as emailing over your license documents and the rifles get shipped directly to your door.

  5. Is there a Mag Cap limit in Cat B? If not, that would beat some states.

    So I want to take a couple of rifles from CT to a friend’s place in PA to get some range time. Of course, you have to cross NY to get there. Since CT is a ban state, the rifles are compliant (no scary bayonet lugs), so no prob in NY – but all my mags are illegal in NY, but fine in CT and PA. Mail the mags to PA?

    • Seeing as how NYC juries don’t seem to give a flying f anymore, you could just go thru the big Apple, just to piss off hizzoner. Okay, really, jk. Mailing is the only safe bet. But if i owned a range near the NY border in PA, I would rent high cap mags for just this kind of situation.

    • If I were you, I’d just lock and transport in accord with Federal law, as possession is legal at both the beginning and end of your journey.

      • Just do NOT stop for any reason in enemy territory.

        FYI, Congress is considering an amendment to FOPA that would permit not only brief stops, but even overnight stops in enemy territory, for persons legally transporting their guns from one state to another.

        • I suppose I should also lock the lead foot up too, just to avoid involuntary stops?

          But seriously, I think I am just going to mail or UPS them – why tempt trouble?

    • I haven’t heard of, or found any reference in the legal texts, about a mag limit, but it’s important to remember that guns are not as readily available in France as they are in the U.S. and acquiring firearms can be an expensive hobby. Rifles that can be bought for $300 in the U.S. will set you back 500 Euros and more over here and parts and pieces are not as readily available.

  6. So which is punished more severely in France — unlawful possossion of a firearm or speaking English at the Hotel de Crillon?

    • Possession of an illegal firearm will soon be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a 250.000 Euro fine, I think that even beats The Bernstein Suite at the Crillon.

  7. Thanks for this interesting post and apologies for not noticing it sooner. As one of probably a very small number of TTAG readers in France, I agree that the rules here might seem confusing to our American cousins. They are even sometimes confusing for us! Nevertheless, I am not sure the posting really does justice to the rules of play, and it doesn’t help that the author has lumped the 8 categories into 4, and has labelled them A, B, C and D. In fact, they are numbered in 8 categories. There is nothing inaccurate in the substance of what he reports – not at least that I notice. For the sake of clarity, I will attempt to reprise:

    1ère catégorie : arms and munitions of war including semi-automatic rifles and handguns. These can be purchased with the authorisation of the prefect.

    2ème catégorie : materials required to carry or use firearms in combat

    3ème catégorie : gas and chemical warfare materials

    4ème categorie : hand guns not classified as arms of war, semi-automatic rifles that can fire more than 3 shots, rifles with a length under 80cm and a barrel less than 45cm, automatic or semi-automatic weapons with a barrel under 60cm, semi-automatic weapons like look like arms of war, or camouflaged, air weapons with energy superior to 4 joules. All these weapons may be purchased only with prefectorial authorisation.

    5ème catégorie : shotguns firing a single shot, shotguns and center-fire rifles not classed in categories 1 or 4, repeating shotguns with magazines under 3 shells. In effect, this includes most rifles in non-military calibres although not semi-automatics. All these arms can be bought by those holding a hunting licence or membership in an authorised shooting club. Prefectorial authorisation is not required but prefectorial notification is obligatory.

    6ème catégorie : combat knives, bayonettes, tear gas, kniuckle-dusters, tasers. Carrying any of thee without a ‘legitimate reason’ is forbidden.

    7ème catégorie : starting pistols, air weapons with power under 10 joules which are not subject to prefectorial notification, and rimfire rifles and air weapons superior to 10 joules, which are subject to notification.

    8ème catégorie : historic weapons and replicas, all black-powder weapons and canons – not subject to notification.

    I hope that’s clear. I see nothing in the rules prohibiting the construction of large catapults.

    Otherwise, I would only note that the byzantine quality of the rules is perhaps even more annoying that the post suggests. It is illegal to hunt with a .22 rifle. It is illegal to plink, even on your own land, and even if you possess a legal firearm. You can only shoot outdoors in the context of an authorised hunt. The gendarmes can show up whenever they want to inspect your firearms safe (obligatory for most – but not all firearms). All these rules are likely to become even more restrictive in the future, following recent events in Toulouse and elsewhere. Although of course none of these incidents have involved law-abiding shooters holding registered weapons.

    Yet you can buy silencers over the counter and order more or less anything by mail, provided you have the right paperwork.

    In Britain, which operates an even more restrictive regime, it is worth noting that at least you can shoot on your own land and assassinating bunnies with a .22 has not (yet) been banned. Although owning any kind of pistol has been banned and they have had to pass a special temporary law to allow the shooting to go ahead at the Olympics! The British team is meanwhile having to practice in, I think, Belgium.

    • It is almost more complex than that, because the 8 categories system that Johnatan described is the “old” system replaced on march 6, 2012 by a new law that was voted that day :

      Official text of the law (in french) here mentioning the “simplification with only 4 categories A,B,C,D :;jsessionid=?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000025445727&dateTexte=&oldAction=rechJO&categorieLien=id

      Unfortunately, the details of the law haven’t been discussed by parliament yet, it will probably take another few years I guess. So even there is a new law, we still use the old one that just got replaced … go figure … politics as usual I guess !

      • Apparently none of this prevents your mohammadans from assaulting a newpaper office.

        Feel good that Obuma postponed his golf outing today for a special briefing on the terror attack in France. He doesn’t even have a daily national security briefing but he’s one with the euros.

        • And having NO gun laws and a fully armed citizenship would not have prevented it ether. Most people are not going to bring their AK47 to work so even if you could own one legally the chances you would prevent anyone from getting killed by armed terrorists just because it was legal to own a gun is insulting to those shot. We should really be focusing on the ideology that lead to this. Terrorists, guerrilla forces, and just plan criminals have always found was to be armed. And gun violence is NOT prevented in areas the population IS armed ether. Hay in war both sides have guns and both sides get killed so arming the so called good guys does not mean they will win the gun fight with the bad guys who showed up with intent to kill before being killed.

    • Thank you Jonathan. Now can you tell us how 3 Islamic terrorists got ahold of 3 machine guns and ammo for them to shoot up Paris and escape unscathed, even unidentified, after committing mass murder? What good are those laws?

      • Actually, the reports are specifying that the terrorists were shooting semi-automatic. In fact, the Daily Mail in the UK was talking about how they were using military tactics requiring extensive training. Something called “double tapping.”

    • Interesting but entirely irelivent to your assertion. You claim that the gun control laws are the reason gun related crimes are lower in other countries. First, nothing in your link suggests that. The statement was simply that the rates are higher. There was no data presented or implied concerning the reason(s). To determine if the laws restricting firearms relates to lower gun related crime the relevant data sets are at the least crime rate before enacting laws and crime rates after enacting laws for each country. Then you might compile the numbers and determine if laws on average reduce related crime. This is problematic for your assertion as in the case of the UK the enactment of strict laws has corollations with a steady rise in crime of all types but notably gun related crime. During the same span in the US there has been a dramatic reduction in crime of all sorts including gun crimes as gun laws were regularly made les restrictive. Another consideration is the relevant uses of firearms. The FBI estimates around a quarter million self defense uses annually in the US. These are considered legitimate uses where threats to life or grave bodily harm were considered reasonable. We’re firearms to be restricted to the extent seen in Europe some percentage of those attacks must as a result be assumed to be successful, and some percent of that number must result in grave harm or death. It happens that if you look at UK crime statistics you will see a disproportionate portion of the total crimes being violent assaults, particularly rapes relative to the U.S. the few general conclusions we can draw are that crime of any type has its roots in socioeconomics more so than laws. Gun control by its self is either ineffective or counter effective. And most importantly statistics must be used properly to attain meaningful information.

  8. So with all this in mind, in france……does it matter if you have suffered from ptsd? i dont mean now i mean like years ago…..would it still be a no to guns due to the risk that you could pose to others like it would be in england???

    • Your question about PTST is interesting. I take anti depressants and have for years but this was no impediment for obtaining my Licence de tir. Anyways the requirement is for a doctor to sign off, not a shrink, so any old doc will do, even one who has no idea how you are. My suggestion is not mention the PTST thing, if you are batshit crazy it will be evident anyways so no need to drop kick a hornets nest.

      Having been a shooter in the US (AZ) then in France I defiantly was overwhelmed by the laws here but honestly i prefer this to the craziness in the southwest. I recall many many incidents at gun ranges in the states where total idiots would endanger the whole range by their lack of safety training. Wildcatting was even worse as you could easily fall on a nutcase who wants to seal your guns.

      The major difference is that in France your guns are strictly for sporting purposes and in no case for self defense (like in the states). Shoot someone here and they will toss you under the jail regardless of the circumstances. In fact, and this is where France is f***ed up , defending yourself with anything here will probably get you tossed in prison while the shithead crook will walk!!

      • So the people killed this morning in Paris were supposed to bow and thank their murderers, who are not under the jail, BTW, no one even knows who they were. I’ll keep my freedom, thanks, and the risks that go with it.

  9. Hey guys. We, in the UK, are feeling for you after another deeply upsetting and depressing school massacre. Maybe it’s time to decommission those 200-million-odd privately held, easy to use, completely unnecessary firearms that you keep bleating on about – there aren’t any injuns left to kill guys, you did that already.

    • Hey Lou; for me, as a free man practicing a G-D given right of open carrying a Kimber 1911 .45ACP pistol for the last seven Years (without a need for a license) in the desert Paradise of New Mexico , in these the United State of America; I look at the prison of what was once the Great United Kingdom of Britain and all of its’ inmates and I say to myself, “There . but for the grace of G-d goes The USA.”

    • I guess youve never been to Oklahoma, there are plenty of Indians and they like their guns just as much as anyone else.

    • Lou, I have read plenty of cases where unarmed UK citizens, even police officers, have been murdered. Plenty others have been raped. Perhaps they’d rather be dead than have to face the choice of defending themselves with a deadly weapon. I would prefer have that choice available.

      You are free to disagree and live in a country where soldiers can get cut into pieces without a means to defend themselves and you don’t have to face the difficulty of making choices.

    • I suppose if your gun crime violent crime and rape statistics had actually improved rather than worsened after your big ban you could use those numbers to make a valid point rather than resorting to glib mockery. But the fact is your crime is up ours is down so glib is all you have.

  10. Aside from the “injuns”, of which there are still a great many left, those completely unnecessary firearms enabled us to get rid of you Brits and let us run our country by ourselves.

      • The French played a role in helping the colonies win the war, but it was not solely because of them that the war was won. And whether the guns are “necessary” or not is nobody’s business.

        • The only reason the war lasted long enough for the French to come around and “help” was because of the massive armed resistance afforded by civilian firearms ownership in the US that the Brits would have happily restricted… for the Children, or whoever it was that they cared about at the time

  11. As a UK shooter looking to move to france, I’m actually struck by the fact that the UK is easier to own and use firearms than France albeit we don’t have certain firearms. Currently on my FAC (fire arms cert) I can own centrefire and rimfire rifles.
    Rimfire semi auto no magazine limit.
    Centrefire bolt only no magazine capacity limit.
    Ammo limits and shooting venues are capable of being increased providing I can prove need. I.e. “I’m off shooting deer at this venue and want a 308 to do it with” then police have to prove I don’t have need otherwise must grant permission.
    There’s no real limit to the number of weapons capable of being held nor ammo. I just need to prove a need. Fancy a lever action in pistol calibre? Need? Yup, I shoot In a club, tick. Want sound moderator? Need? Yup, health and safety to protect those little ears. This does have to be noted on the cert.
    there’s no limit on calibres whether military or not so I have both 308 and 22.250
    On my shotgun licence, I can have as many guns as I want in any action except auto. I.e. Saiga 10 shot semi auto.
    no licence needed for air rifles to 12 ft lb. suitable for hunting small mammals to 40-50 yrds
    I thought we had restrictions on where to shoot but this is only reasonable in a small country with 55 million. France is three times bigger for same population. Our restrictions are minimal for air rifles if you own land or have permission. More restricted for .22 as requires police authorisation to confirm land as fit for shooting over, I.e. not in towns but still lots of places.
    Centre fire is more restricted and land needs closer authorisation from police but once the land is registered then anyone with permission on FAC and from land owner can shoot there as it goes on a register.
    No limits on when to shoot except game seasons.
    no limits on need to join clubs, get doctor assessment
    Licences last upto 5 yrs

    However, no pistols to speak of, no automatic weapons of any sort, no semi-auto centrefire. BUT we have had few massacres since Hungerford or Dunblane and even as a shooter I’m very happy to live under that regime. Want to shoot heavy duty? Fly to Krakow and have cheap weekend with Glocks, AKs and Glaubert Machine pistols.

    If you want to know the results of these laws then stats on gun crime is here:

    Would like to hear similar for FR, DE, US etc

    • It’s good to hear how things are across the pond. Would it be safe to say that UK and French gun laws are designed to seperate the weekend warriors from the true hunters/competitors/sportsmen (IDPA, IPSC, etc.)? It seems as though they’re exceedingly restrictive (compared to American standards obviously) but clearly do-able. Not exactly this southern boy’s cup of tea but I could make it work.

    • The problem is despite the apparent result in fewer mass shootings the rest of your crime statistics either went up or failed to drop at all. Specifically assault and rape are up while over the same span they have dropped massively in the US. In the US we have fairly reliable statistics showing the number of self defense uses of firearms, were we to enact laws similar to the UKs we would doubtless see a similar rise in rape and assault and non firearms related homicide. I know several people who have used a gun for self defense, typically without firing a shot but to good effect regardless and I don’t doubt they all would have suffered greatly had they not been armed.

  12. The good part is after you pass a background check in France you can purchase up to 12 firearms, and have 1000 rounds of ammo for each. So while there are restrictions on gun ownership they aren’t as draconian as some other so called “advanced” countries.

    • How do most people acquire firearms in France? Are there any major outdoor shops that sell rifles like we have in the US (Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, etc)? Any big French firearm websites? Would be cool to see some links to see how they are sold online there. Also I wonder if you could easily import rifle purchases from the US?

      Side note, sorry to hear about the attacks in France. I wrote my Congressman here in America thanking them for their support of private firearm ownership here in the US, especially at the place of work. Couldn’t help but think over these last few attacks in France that they may be much less common if more French citizens were armed to give those coward Jihadis some resistance. Worked great for kicking out the Nazis in WWII, Vive la France!

  13. Those strict gun laws didn’t stop Muslim terrorists from killing a dozen journalists and wounding another 27 in Paris today. The worst part about it is the terrorists got away.

  14. two years later and I’m still doubting the author’s origins. no self respecting german would move to france. maybe alsace.

  15. I doubt very much that a European version of the 2nd Amendment would have stopped the 12 killings in France today. Are you saying such a thing could never happen in the USA?

    Gun nuts use every event to push for more guns just like anti gun nuts use every even to push for gun confiscation

    • First of all, please refrain from using the term “gun nuts.” It’s an insult to the millions of law-abiding American gun owners who cherish their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. You could use “gun rights advocates” just as we use the term “gun control advocates.” Or “gunnies” as we use the word “antis.”

      Whether you doubt the efficacy of armed citizens in the event of a terrorist attack, it’s clearly a better option than being defenseless. Setting aside the fact that armed self-defense is a human right.

      We ARE saying such a thing could happen in the U.S. Hence the advisability of being armed.

      Gun control advocates are free to use even to promote their agenda. So are gun rights advocates. Only one of us is right, and I bet you don’t know which one it is.

    • While it could most certainly happen here have you considered why it has so far not happened? The US is called the great satan, we are first among infidels apparently and even considering our relative distance it seems Odd that we of all nations do not receive multiple shootings and bombings of the scale seen elsewhere. Our magazines and TV shows mock Allah with impunity. We have a large and growing population of Muslims yet when one of them wants to fight it isn’t here. We probably will suffer similar attacks in the future but for now it seems there are softer targets.

    • Now that it actually happened in Garland, TX, you can see that an armed victim could have stopped two armed attackers.

      A similar event happened on Colorado springs a few years ago. A nut like the Norway shooter, Brevik came shooting into a church and was stopped by a woman with a handgun.

  16. Would have been nice to see some of those hunting rifles pointed out some windows taking out those terrorist bastards.

  17. And this is why my ancestors left France in the 1850’s to become prosperous farmers in Illinois. I have a picture of my dad being a member of the high school rifle team in the 1920’s. Cops showing up to a massacre unarmed. Mon dieu…

  18. This article is not accurate and valid anymore… a lot of mistakes and assumption from the writer who wrote the article in 2012 based on a proposed law that changed since and has been voted in 2013.

    I’m not saying French Gun Laws are not stupid… just that the article is not accurate anymore.

    One, more up to date, has been published on another gun blog recently… I’m just sayin’

  19. True this is all way out of date but in general the rules remain the same: rifles and shotguns fairly easy to get if you are registered hunter, sport shooter; pistols and semi-automatic long guns somewhat more difficult.

  20. Yet the government has all and anything they want. Strikes me as kind of odd. Of course, governments all over the world, even the U.S. believe they are better than the people they are is existence to serve so that comes as no surprise.
    I bet this is what “reasonable gun laws” look like to the idiot statists in this country.

  21. Does anybody have first-hand experience with Czech gun laws? From what I gather the Czech Republic might be one of the best European countries for gun owners.

    • Take a look at and if you have any questions left, ask away, I will try to check it here later and answer them. From what I understand, Estonia has very similar laws (but I don’t know details), and then wherever in Europe you look, it is much worse (Switzerland may have easier access to full autos, but legal concealed carry is basically impossible for a common guy).

      I think that getting the gun license may be best summed up as being very similar to getting driving license, with the add-on of clean criminal record. After you pass the exam and get stamp from general practitioner (who may or may not send you for psych-eval – but I think that happens rarely as people with known mental issues don’t try to get licenses and most docs won’t send you unless you have mental issues history) the cops have 30 days to check your criminal and misdemeanor record (incl. DUIs). License is shall issue and the time limits are observed, my papers took 3 weeks. To get autoloaders, you need to fill in “permit to buy, possess and carry” (you may opt to strike “carry” out, but I don’t think anyone has ever done it) and you may file this permit at the same time when filing for the license. To get hunting rifles you need to present the license and then register the gun in 10 days (yes, nobody wants them registered, but that is the way it is). You will pay about 40 bucks for the exam and then 20 for each license category (I have three categories for the following reasons – A/collecting – access to full autos, although may issue, B/sport shooting – no ammo restrictions, E/ self-defense – concealed carry /if you have only self defense you can buy only ammo for the guns you own – no limit on quantity). No need to elaborate on the reasons for license, you simply tick “self defense” and that is it (in some other European countries like Slovakia concealed carry is may issue and you need to prove “genuine reason” with living in high crime area not being enough). You need to renew every ten years, which means getting a doc stamp and filling a paper (no exam). If you however forget and the license falls through, you need to go through the exam all again and store guns at a licensed gun dealer for the mean time.

      You can carry basically everywhere apart from courthouses; private prohibition signs (e.g. banks) have no legal impact. You can theoretically carry also SBRs or semi-auto rifles, as long as you can effectively conceal them – so taking your Vz.58 to range on Sunday means having it locked and loaded in a backpack. Failure to conceal means fine, repeated failure to conceal may lead to loss of license = obligation to sell guns. You are obliged to carry the you license and license for the gun you have with you (issued when registering the gun), the cops may ask you to show the gun and paperwork (+ possible breathalyser test). But if you conceal properly, cops will never stop you on the street – this is a free country after all. If you are hunter and carry openly (the only open carry possibility), you need to be ready for a breathalyser test which as I understand cops do quite often. (fail = fine, possible loss of license)

      According to law, self-defense may NOT BE MANIFESTLY DISPROPORTIONATE TO THE MANNER OF ATTACK. You can probably see that this makes self-defense against UNARMED attacker very tricky. If there is a slightest chance to either brandish and clearly signal readiness to use the weapon, or to give a warning shot, then you should do it, otherwise courts may consider it manifestly disproportionate. Also, when the attacker is unarmed, it is better to shoot to wound. If he bleeds to death from leg you will be fine legally, however if you get few bruises (or even lose few teeth, as happened in a recent case) and shoot immediately after drawing at center of mass, killing the attacker, then you will probably serve time. If the attacker has knife (may happen) or gun (extremely rare) or there is multitude of them, then the possibility of legitimate shooting are much wider. No stand your ground law, however at the same time no obligation to retreat, so in reality it is almost stand your ground with the limitation of “not manifestly disproportionate”.

      In most of other European countries, you won’t get self-defense license or CC. That means people use sport-shooting licenses. In the Czech Republic, sport shooting license means doesn’t require any sport-club membership or similar. In other countries you have to prove membership and/or frequent visits to the range. That means that if you get into for example car accident, can’t get to range as often in the year as the law requires – good bye to license, good bye to guns. Fortunately, not so much in the CzR. Most other countries have also various limitations on number of guns, types of guns (“military style”) or calibers. Nothing like that in the CzR.

      If you have collecting license, you can get full autos. But it is may issue and varies a lot regionally (i.e. on the local police chief). Most importantly, you are obliged to allow access to police officers to check your safe storage. I think most people don’t apply for this because they don’t want cops in their houses, even though they call in advance and are very polite. The safe storage apply also if you don’t have full auto, but the cops don’t have the right to come and check it. From what I understand in Germany the cops can and do check it frequently even if one has only a single self-loading pistol (for the sport, god forbid you would use it for self-defense there).

      Guns are not a political issue, there is no very vocal pro/anti gun movement here. Those who want guns simply get the license and have them, and although it is a nuisance, once you get it, I guess you don’t care (unless you forget to renew). Most of population don’t really know about the fact that these are the most permissive laws in Europe until a few law-life families move into neighborhood and then suddenly almost all locals get CC licenses within a couple of months (happened in one town in 2011). I think most don’t realize that there are 200.000 people licensed for CC (for 10 mil population) because they never see any guns in public (other than police). Even private security have to CC. Self-defense shootings happen and are covered by newspapers without many people giving them second thought. Killings with legal guns do happen too, but those are surprisingly often committed by off-duty or ex cops, so that it in itself presents a strong argument that it is just a case of rotten apples rather than the face of legal gun owners. Also, cops have extensive psych eval as part of their job, so the voices for obligatory psych testing for getting license are also not that vocal in the face of the off duty / ex cop illegitimate gun uses.

      There is a black market with guns, but guns are in no way easily accessible to the common street thugs. Yes, a would-be bank robber will get one, but your corner boy selling crack most probably won’t. Breivik utterly failed when he tried to buy guns in Prague. Another Polish terrorist lived a few kilometers from Czech border yet he drove 1200kms to Belgium to get illegal guns. So when a gun owner gets jumped here, it mostly means bringing knife to a gun fight for the bad guy.

      • Sorry for all the typos and mistakes. From all of them, I’d like to point out that law-life was supposed to be low-life.

        On top of the aforementioned – crime rates are low compared to rest of Europe so most people don’t care and don’t really want to have guns themselves. At the same time we were disarmed by the Nazis and Communist basically from 1939 to 1989. So it will still take a few decades before the number of guns in population gets at least to German levels (on the other hand Germans mostly have hunting rifles, Czechs have mostly pistols).

    • Czech here, gun licence holder and daily CCWing.
      Generaly what Bungameng said is wery well written summarization. I would just add that number of CCWs is over 230 000 – percentualy its comparable with Texas (until 2010 we had slightly more). Also CCW is the most commom kind of gunlicence issued. More than sporting or hunting or collecting.
      Its legal to carry guns to schools. – no shootings ever. CCW is not limited to just handguns, and there is no magazine capacity limitation.
      And considering murders, acording to EUrostat we are 5th safets country in European Union – pretty good for Eastern block country, huh? Less than 1 murder per 100,000. Certainly ls than Britain, France etc..

  22. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

    From Pennsylvania, USA

  23. You would think, after a Nazi occupation, that guns would be encouraged for legal citizens to own and know how to use.

  24. I would be curious to hear thoughts of Europeans, particularly any French citizens/residents after the horrendous attacks in Paris today. As an American who is preparing to go deer hunting I have my 30.06 and AR15 (5.56 NATO) ready to go. I’ll also be carrying a 9mm 15+1 with me as there is some concern about coyotes, bears and wild boars in the part of Michigan I’ll be in. This is all perfectly normal here. There will be about 700,000 armed hunters in the woods for the next two weeks.

  25. Well, I guess all of you naysayers regarding no guns CAN TAKE FOOT OUT OF MOUTH NOW. If Paris had concealed carry, there wouldn’t be as many dead (except for the ISIS idiots).

  26. Don’t like guns ? Throw your cell phone at the bad guys, that would help… Here are your options at a one sided firefight as I see it; Run, Hide, Die or Fight. I prefer the last. With a concealed firearm.

    P/S stay out of “gun free zones” my law enforcement associates call them “shooting galleries” Their families are forbidden from going in them.

  27. I live in Croatia and we have a similar arrangement. Basically, you have the cathegories:
    A) Forbidden: automatic weapons, silencers, and so on.
    B) Allowed with license: All firearms, both rimfire and centerfire. Requires license to buy and own, must be renewed on 5 year basis. To get a license you must have a valid reason (self defense generally is not granted), so either being a member of a shooting club or having a hunting license (requires passing some exams and training), passing a health check (renewed every 5 years), and a police check (no prior convictions, no domestic violence, they come and check the gun safe and standing with the neighbours). Police may check at any time.
    C) Registration only: black powder guns, crossbows and bows over 100 lb draw, airguns over 200m/s muzzle velocity or over 0.177 caliber. Can be bought without permit, but must be registered, and must pass a police check almost identical to B cathegory except no need for gun safe after purchase. If you commit any crime (or domestic violence) they will be confiscated.
    (D) No registration, free of sale for 18+: crossbows and bows below 100 lb draw, airguns of 0.177 caliber below 200m/s muzzle velocity, non lethal self-defense weapons (eg. electric stun guns, pepper spray, tear gas, etc)

    You may carry guns to the range or hunting ground, gunsmith, or gun shop, unloaded and separate from ammunition. B cathegory weapons must be stored unloaded and separate from ammunition in a safe. Firearms can only be used on hunting grounds in the context of a hunt, or on a firing range; airguns and bows/crossbows can be used on private property as well, though. Even more restrictive then France, sadly.

    It’s especially annoying that you can’t plink outdoors where it’s safe to.

  28. Ridiculous Americans. Stop stroking your weapons & come back to reality. France has strong gun laws compared to your own absurd third-world lack of regulation, but porous borders meaning smuggling them from poorer countries in Eastern Europe & the Balkans – which have lax laws more comparable to yours and lots of guns on the black market from the wars of the 90s. You fucking idiots. More people got killed on Christmas day in the US last year with guns than all year in the UK. TODDLERS shot more people than TOTAL here. Utter, utter, morons.

    • You people from Europe think you are so much smarter than americans
      Here’s an example of how guns in America have saved lives

      A 26-year-old woman shopping with her newborn baby at a Walmart in
      Columbus, Indiana was accidentally shot Saturday evening when a man
      dropped his handgun.

      The.22-calibur pistol belonging to Tony E Ward, 56, fell out of his
      holster inside the Walmart at 2025 Merchants Mile and fired – just
      missing Virginia Thompson’s newborn baby in the shopping cart.

      The bullet instead hit a bottle of soda and ricocheted, hitting Ms Thompson in the upper arm.

      No one was injured after a gun accidentally discharged when a man
      dropped his fanny pack at a local Wal-Mart on Friday, according to a
      Murfreesboro Police Department incident report.

      According to the report, a man came into the Wal-Mart in the 140 block of Joe B. Jackson Parkway with a handgun in his fanny pack.

      The man told police he adjusted his belt and the fanny pack fell to the ground, at which point one round was fired, the report stated.

      According to the report, the man was lawfully carrying his handgun and had his permit with him.


      HAYDEN, Idaho (AP) — A 2-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed
      his mother after he reached into her purse at a northern Idaho Wal-Mart
      and her concealed gun fired, authorities said Tuesday.

      The woman was shopping with her son and three other children,
      Kootenai County sheriff’s spokesman Stu Miller told The Associated
      Press. Her family had come to the area to visit relatives, he said.

      The woman, whose identity was not released, had a concealed weapons
      permit. Miller said the young boy was left in a shopping cart, reached
      into the victim’s purse and grabbed a small-caliber handgun, which
      discharged one time.


      N.Y. – Oneida City Police charged a Canastota man with reckless
      endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon after he allegedly shot himself in the foot.

      Oneida City Police responded to Walmart at approximately 7:15 p.m. on Monday, February 1st, for reports of a gunshot.

      According to authorities, Guthrie Hood, 23, Pine Ridge Road, of
      Canastota, allegedly accidentally shot himself in the foot with a 9mm
      handgun that he was carrying in his pocket. The bullet lodged in his
      foot. The accident happened in one of the toy aisles.

      He was treated at the scene and transported to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica. –

      FORT WAYNE, Ind. ( — According to Fort Wayne police, a gun accidentally discharged at a local Wall-Mart after the weapon dropped from a shopper’s holster.

      Police responded to reports of a shot fired Saturday a little before 5 p.m. at the Wal-Mart at Apple Glen Crossing. Witnesses told police the customer accidentally dropped the firearm causing it to discharge.
      (CBS/AP) DALLAS – Police have arrested 23-year-old Todd Canady after he dropped a handgun while on line at a Dallas Walmart, and the resulting gunfire accidentally injured a woman and two young children, as well as Canady, CBS DFW reports.

      Police said Canady left the store and then fled when they tried to question him about the incident. He had a permit to carry a concealed handgun, but was booked Tuesday on charges of evading arrest and injury to a child.

      Police are investigating after a man accidentally shot himself in the leg Wednesday afternoon at the Walmart in Antioch.

      The shooting was reported after 4 p.m. at the store in the 3000 block of Hamilton Church Road.
      Investigators say a 21-year-old man, who was buying a gallon of milk, felt the gun that had been on his waist start to move.
      The gun was not in a holster, and it fired – hitting the man in the leg.
      He was transported to an area hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
      No other injuries have been reported.

      Police said the man, who had his permit to conceal a weapon, will not be charged.

  29. Fortunately for Americans we don’t have to worry about carrying our guns locked or disassembled in our vehicles.
    We can keep them loaded and under the seat…where they can slide through to the back and a 4 year old boy can unbuckle himself and fired through the front seat, hitting his mother in the back. No worries. Jamie Gilt was brought to a hospital for treatment…and will live
    We can also keep loaded weapons loaded and in our cars so they can come handy when some idiot driver rear ends us. Will Smith, a former defensive end who played on the New Orleans Saints‘ Super Bowl-winning team, will think twice when he tries to disrespect another driver. At least he would have…had he not been shot to death
    All in all , carrying guns in our cars has lead to fewer drivers pulling up along side us and shooting at us from out of their windows like in the movies.
    It’s never happened to me…so carrying guns in cars has saved me countless times

  30. This is an old blog. Let me add this, I know it sounds like “I had to walk to school and back home up hill both ways in hip deep snow” but here I go; when I went to school here in the USA we had kids driving their pickups to school with gun racks in the back window with guns hanging on it. We had disagreements and fights which were settled with fists. Nobody EVER went out to their truck and got a gun and started shooting up the place. Jump ahead 40 years. What has changed? Gun ownership hasn’t changed. Gun availability hasn’t changed. Gun laws are more strict now. I went to the hardware store and bought a .243 when I was 17 years old. The only thing that has changed is our social processes. There is no “yes sir” or “no sir” or “yes maam” or “no maam” being taught these days or “treat others as you wish to be treated” or “would you talk like that to your mother or father” or just plain respect for human life. People are raised these days to be desensitized to others. I believe social media has a lot to do with it as well as the rampant liberal thinking that has infected our nation over the last decade or so. The same people that want stricter gun laws support abortion. It’s a heinous crime to shoot up a school but it’s ok to kill tens of thousands of unborn children each year through abortion. How can you not be against both? As a society our beliefs have gone to hell in a hand basket. People are up in arms about school shootings yet nothing is ever said or done about the 600 – 700 murders that happen each year in South Chicago most if not all which are done with guns. But I guess that’s ok because it’s just South Chicago and doesn’t fit the “political agenda”. We need to bring common sense back and get away from the politically driven agendas that are destroying our society and driving a wedge between us. Lets not forget about the MSM. Nothing but negativity and biased reporting. I do remember a day where they simply reported on the news and left the biased BS outside but not these days. Twisting words and outright lies being published by some reporters has turned our MSM into nothing more than a glorified National Inquirer. Garbage, absolute garbage. Got a little off track there but in a short, it’s plain to see that guns are not the problem as gun ownership hasn’t changed over time but society has so maybe we as a society need to get back what we lost.

  31. I’m doing research and wonder if anyone knows the gun laws in France circa 1900. I saw a comment that there was little control in Germany. Could an ordinary citizen own a gun legally?

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