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Should France Arm its Municipal Police Officers?

Two French representatives recommend to follow the American model and arm municipal police officers in France. Only 44% of the 21,000 officers in this local police force currently carry a pistol while on duty.

Between October 2013 and March 2018, there were 78 attempted acts of terrorism recorded in France. This figure “affects the way national security is approached,” according to the Quartz news website. While they are called upon to work against terrorism, municipal police officers must wait until the better-equipped national police or gendarmerie arrive to manage the situation.

While the number of armed municipal police officers increased following the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and on November 13, 2015, local mayors still have to justify their decision to arm the officers in their towns. The recent report suggests providing them with semi-automatic weapons, which leads to questions as to the role played by this local police force. Should they be in the field interacting with the population, or rather helping in the fight against crime?

Quartz does however point out that being armed is not a guarantee of greater security. In the United States, where police officers in uniform are equipped with pistols, “the increasing militarization of law enforcement […] is associated with more civilian deaths.”

In France, the constitution does not provide for the right to bear arms. And yet 20% of people are recorded as being armed. In the United States, where the Second Amendment protects this right, there are 120 weapons for every 100 people. Each state require people to have a license to purchase and carry a weapon, but some like New York and California are more strict than other.

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