Firearms regulation in France

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To buy a firearm in France, in line with the European Firearms Directive, a hunting license or a shooting sport license is necessary depending on the type, function and magazine capacity of the weapon.



In 1563, Charles IX of France had an address to the Rouen parliament about forbidding firearms in which he made the following statement:

Old FrenchEnglish

D'auantage cõsiderant que les meurtres, volleries, assassinats, & autres entreprinses, qui troublent le commun repos de nosdicts subects, s'exercent plus par les armes à feu, que nuls aultres : Défendons tresestroictement sur mesmes peines à toutes personnes, de quelque estat, dignité & qualité qu'ils soyent, porter ne faire porter par leurs gens & seruiteurs dedans les villes, ne par les champs, aucune hacquebute, pistolle ne pistolet, ne d'icelles tirer: sinon (...). [1]

Considering murders, robberies, killings & other enterprises, which disturb regularly the rest of our subjects, are more caused by firearms than any others: we forbid very strictly with the same punishment for everyone, of any state, dignity & quality they are, to carry or have carried by their people & servitors neither within any town, nor in the countryside, any hacquebute, pistol nor pistolet, nor to use them: except (...)

Firearms classification

As of September 2015, classification has been simplified to 4 categories: [2]

Individuals cannot own more than twelve B categorized firearms, cannot own more than ten magazines for a given weapon, and cannot store more than 1000 rounds per weapon. For example, if one owned a 9mm pistol then one could store 1000 rounds of 9mm; if one owned two 9mm pistols then one could store up to 2000 rounds.

Hunters can only purchase C category weapons with showing proof of possession of hunting license with the year's validation. Hunters can purchase Category D weapons at anytime whether their hunting license is valid or not. Black powder muzzle loading are allowed to be used for hunting.

Ammunition Classification

Any handgun ammunition is classified as B, for example, someone who owns a lever-action carbine in C category chamber for .357 magnum needs to have a B categorized weapon to be able to buy .357 magnum ammunition.

Some exceptions exist for calibers like in c-6° category.

On August 1, 2018 D2 ammunition became D.


Ownership and purchase conditions

Only 12 Category B authorization can be obtained maximum per person. If the firearms owner don't pay again his sport shooting licence (valid 1 year) he will have 6month to get rid of all his Category B firearms and ammo (destruction at owner expense, sell to/through a gun store).

No civilian may carry any weapons in a public place. A special form allows a civilian to apply for a 1-year carry license, which allows them to carry a handgun and a maximum of 50 rounds if they are "exposed to exceptional risks to their life". In practice, such authorizations are only allowed to politician.

Exceptions exist for children and teenagers with a shooting or ball-trap license and parental approval. A child aged between 9 and 12 can own D categorized weapon that shoot projectiles In a non pyrotechnic way between 2 and 20 joules. A teenager aged 12 to 16 can own C and D categorized weapons. They can also own one-shot, rimfire Category B firearms if they participate in international shooting competitions (only with a shooting licence).

A shooter between the ages of 16 and 18 who has a shooting, hunting or ball-trap license can own C and D categorized weapons. They can also own Category B firearms if they participate in international shooting competitions(only with a shooting licence).

Carrying a gun is defined as having a gun by one's side on a public place ready to use. Transporting a gun is defined as having an unloaded, locked or disassembled gun and having a legitimate reason (personal defence doesn't qualify) for doing so in a public place. A legitimate reason to transport a firearm is a legal document like a hunting, shooting, collector, or ball-trap licence. Hunting, collector and ball-trap licences only work for D and C categorized weapon transportation. A shooting licence works for A, B, C and D categorized weapons.

Showing a firearm in public to scare people can be a charge of public disorder.

Since the November 2015 Paris attacks, police officers are allowed to carry their service firearms while off duty.

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  1. texte, Charles IX (1550-1574 ; roi de France) Auteur du; texte, France Auteur du (May 9, 1563). La déclaration faicte par le Roy, de sa majorité, tenant son lict de justice en sa cour de parlement de Roüen : et ordonnance par luy faicte pour le bien & repos public de son royaume : et ce qu'il dict en ladicte cour avant la publication de ladicte ordonnance. Publiée en la cour de parlement à Paris, le vingthuictième jour de septembre, 1563 via
  2. "Armes" [Arms] (in French). Direction de l'information légale et administrative. Retrieved 2016-09-06.