According to the English language French publication thelocal.fr, there are approximately 7.5 million legal firearms in France. However, there are more illegal guns, around 10-20 million. The illegal guns include many WWII-era vintage types but a substantial portion of growth is due to recent terrorist attacks that have taken place on French soil. More French people have decided to arm themselves in spite of the country’s restrictive gun laws.
The Nouvel Observateur, a weekly French news magazine, conducted an investigation and reports that since nightclub shootings have increased some 38 percent in the past five years, more people have become licensed gun owners. The terrorist massacre that took place at the offices of a French satirical magazine in January 2015, leaving twelve dead, has jolted a 10 percent increase in legal gun ownership.
The number of French gun clubs has also increased since the attacks at the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and the other terror attacks in Bataclan and Nice. Gun clubs have seen somewhat of a movement. The French are becoming much more open to the idea of owning a gun. The majority of gun owners are for home defense. France is a far way away from a legal carry law, but their views are changing. In France, there are severe penalties for illegal gun ownership but it is expected that support for the move to allow citizens to carry guns will likely increase.
Their changing views are confirmed by the recent decision to allow off-duty police officers the right to carry their arms and by encouraging municipal police to take their right to bear weapons on duty. A French organization, Arpac, that supports the public’s right to bear arms, reports they have received hundreds of inquiries since the terror attacks.