Gun laws in France

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

Firearms classification[edit]

As of September 2015, classification has been simplified to 4 categories:[1]

  • Category A: Law enforcement restricted firearms and elements that cannot be owned by civilians. Includes select fire firearms, firearms of a caliber greater than 20mm, and magazines that hold more rounds than mentioned below.
  • Category B: Pistols; bolt action and semi automatic that exceed the capacity listed below. Pistols shall not have a capacity greater than 20 rounds, and rifles shall not have a capacity greater than 31 rounds. Also includes any firearm chambered in the following calibers : 7.62 x 39; 5.56 x 45; 5.45 x 39 Russian; 12.7 x 99 (also known as .50 BMG); 14.5 x 114.
  • Category C: Bolt action guns with a capacity no greater than 11 rounds, or semi automatic guns with capacity no greater than 3 rounds. Firearms that shoot the above mentioned calibers are automaticaly considered as Category B firearms, regardless of the capacity or function.
  • Category D: Pepper spray, blank guns, black powder guns, deactivated guns.

One cannot own more than 12 centerfire firearms, and cannot own more than 10 magazines per firearm owned. One also cannot own more than 1000 rounds per firearm.

Ownership and purchase conditions[edit]

  • Category B requires the shooter to be older than 18, to be affiliated with a shooting range, to have followed at least 3 shooting sessions with an instructor and have a medical certificate. The shooter then receives a 5 year authorization for purchase and ownership of Category B (and therefore Category C firearms since they are affiliated with a shooting range). A shooter older than 16 can own Category B firearms if they participate in international shooting competitions.
  • Category C requires a hunting licence or to be affiliated with a shooting range and have a medical certificate.
  • Category D requires the owner to be older than 18 (with the exception to paintball and air guns).

It is not allowed for a civilian to carry any of the above mentioned weapons.[clarification needed] A special form allows a civilian to apply for a 1 year carry licence if they are "exposed to exceptional risks to their life" and allows them to carry a pistol and a maximum of 50 rounds. In practice, such authorizations are extremely rare, and it is actually unknown if any were ever granted. It has been clear that the State will provide police protection and bodyguards rather than issue a carry licence.

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


  1. ^ "Armes" [Arms] (in French). Direction de l'information légale et administrative. Retrieved 2016-09-06.