French Mayor Criticized For Arming Police

French Mayor Furiously Criticized For Arming His Police

A mayor in France has been accused of creating a “Wild West” atmosphere by arming the police in his city with 7.65mm handguns, The Telegraph reports:

A controversial far-right mayor in France has been accused of turning the local police force into “Dirty Harry” after a poster campaign trumpeted their “new friend”: a 7.65-calibre handgun.

Billboards throughout central Béziers, southwestern France, feature large pictures of the semi-automatic weapon with the caption: “From now on, the municipal police has a new friend.”

Underneath the image, the poster reads: “Armed 24/24, 7/7”.

Municipal police in France are allowed to carry arms, but the campaign has been criticised for promoting gun culture.

“Béziers, it’s the wild west, with its cowboys,” wrote one Twitter user, Sofia.

Another, called Loljak, tweeted: “Béziers cops have turned into Dirty Harry”, referring to the 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood as detective “Dirty” Harry Callahan.

Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, called the posters “deliberately provocative”. He said: “The best friends of the police are not their weapons … but the French citizens who respect republican values.”


Robert Ménard, the mayor, said the posters were “appropriate”.

“Yes, our town likes law and order. The rules have changed,” he said. “It is reassuring for residents, who know they have armed police to protect them. It is reassuring for the police themselves.”

The idea that issuing 7.65mm handguns to police makes a city’s cops into “Diry Harries” is absurd. Harry Callaghan used a .44 Magnum.

I could see the posters being a little much for some city-dwellers, regardless of whether they’re European or American. However, most rural areas in the US I feel wouldn’t take issue with something like that.
H/T, Never Yet Melted

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Eddie_Baby

    What kind of handguns are they carrying? Other than revolvers, are there any service type pistols that are 32 ACP?

    • Tom

      .32 ACP is 7.62mm the 7.65mm Parabellum aka .30 Luger is a different round designed by DWM and used in the original Luger pistol. I would guess its use in France is because its not considered to be a military round like 9mm Parabellum.

      • noob

        so that would mean that in france the bad guys have surplus combloc military weapons in 7.62x39mm while the police have “civillian” pistols in 7.65mm luger? that doesn’t sound like a plan for happy outcomes.

    • Tsuba

      Sig sp2022 (in 9mm)are the new official handgun, It’s used by almost every gov´t agency to the police nationale from the forrest guards (that doesn’t mean they don’t keep their old firearms in police armory)

  • Ratcraft

    Well, he ain’t that far right, 7.65? Move a little more right and crank it up to 10, 10mm that is.

    • insertjjs

      or to paraphrase Spinal Tap, crank it up to 11. 11.43mm/45ACP

      • Anonymoose

        Even better, crank it up to 11.43×24 (.460 Rowland). Then you’ve got >10mm power and .45-caliber.

        • noob

          here’s something that will never happen – steel core polymer jacket .460 rowland, say about 55 grains at 3000fps. Physics says you should be able to do it and it will outperform the russian 7N21 and 7N31 9x19mm PBP armour-piercing ammunition at least on paper.

          the long range ballistics would be poor due to the .460 diameter bullet with bad ballistic coefficient, but at short range you’d have 5.56mm power from a 5 inch barrel.

          • marathag

            40 Super 135gr@1800fps

            Twice as heavy, almost as fast as the 7n31

          • Anonymoose

            Muh sabots, though.

    • Zebra Dun

      That 7.65 mm will penetrate a Military PASTG helmet even without an AP round.

      • Anon. E Maus

        If by 7.65mm, we’re talking .32ACP, then yes, that wouldn’t be surprising, the overwhelming majority of military helmets are not designed to be bulletproof at all, merely, they are designed to shield your head from bumps, and impacts, as well as shrapnel and debris being thrown up by explosions.

        I don’t know which 7.65mm cartridge they’re talking about for certain, but the only 7.65mm pistol cartridges I can think of are all pretty mild, 7.65x17mm Browning (.32ACP), 7.65x21mm Parabellum, or possibly the old French 7.65x20mm Longue (a cartridge nobody has made for decades, so less likely). Either way, none of these are exactly powerhouses.

        Personally, I wouldn’t mind police, or these “sub-officers” or what you should call them, carrying .32’s, if it was legal for regular French citizens to carry the same gun.

        • Zebra Dun

          True the 32 acp is a pipsqueak I was thinking it was the same one in the Tok or PPSH.

  • Freek de Man

    I am pretty sure that is a Beratta 92 FS in the picture.

    • Menger40

      Article says it’s in 7.65, so that’d be a Beretta 98SB or 99

      • Matt

        No, I think is Beretta 81or 82 (7.65-32ACP)

        • Anonymoose

          That’s definitely a 92-series, so it must be 7.65x21mm Parabellum.

          • Giolli Joker

            It’s a stainless (or plated) limited edition model based on the SA only Steel, like the Billenium.
            OR it is a Taurus.
            Photo is too small to properly evaluate.
            My guess is that they used a stock photo for the advert and gave the police old military guns in 7.65 Para.

          • Anonymoose

            Slide-mounted safety though. If they are issuing the pistols on the poster, they’re probably PAMASes with a 7.65×21 barrel because “military” cartridges are banned from civilian ownership/use.

          • Giolli Joker

            Yep… you’re right, on the small pic from my mobile I thought I saw the safety on the frame, and commented accordingly.
            So it’s a Beretta 92-series Inox, but again, I doubt it’s anything more than a stock photo.

    • You expect the average Frenchman to be able to tell? It’s probably just a generic gun picture being used for the advertisement and which has absolutely no bearing or relation to the actual guns being serviced into use by the Police Municipale.

    • Anon. E Maus

      I’m pretty certain Beretta has made some models in 7.65mm for commercial sales (in countries where civilians can’t own “military” calibers).

      • Freek de Man

        Aaah. That’s right, like Italy. mystery solved.

  • BryanS

    The wild west was different from the movies too. We heard the same cries each time a state went shall issue. Never once did it happen.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Still waiting for all that blood in the streets.

    • Edohiguma

      Same with feudal Japan, which was extremely well armed.

      • Tom

        Only Samurai were permitted to carry arms for most of Japanese history. The same is true with much of mediaeval Europe. Except in many of the German states were Messers were considered to be knives and hence did not count. Also many Wild West Towns did not permit the open carry of firearms.

        • pun&gun

          The Japanese merchant class could also have arms, just not the katana longsword. They were limited to the wakizashi short sword.

        • Anonymoose

          He said “feudal,” not “Edo Period and onwards.” It wasn’t until Tokugawa Ieyasu came to power that the classes became legally stratified and hereditary.

  • BattleshipGrey

    I believe it was Islamic extremists that started the “wild west” mindset with recent terrorist attacks with small arms both in nearby countries and, you know… YOUR OWN CAPITAL!

  • John Yossarian

    I would be offended by this too, if I weren’t allowed to carry a firearm myself.

  • luk

    To understand the polemic a bit more, in France there is a National Police which is present in every big town including Bezier. They got guns and do the usual police job.

    These personnels who are getting guns are municipal policemen. Their missions are much more dedicated to proximity issues. They are the police which will fine people who gets their garbage on the sidewalks, they are closed at night. They are not supposed to deal with delinquency, they don’t have the same rights as national police.

    In general, when police is shooting, it is seen as a failure. Even for people who will appreciate the idea of a dead bad guy, the fact that bad guy was able to reach the point of having a gun and using it is a sign of insecurity.

    In addition, this mayor is from the “Front National” party which is on the far right. This party is mostly seen as racist and the first step to fascism. For these reasons, these bilboards are seen as very provocative.

    • Bill

      Wasn’t it an un-armed Paris police officer who was shot and killed buy the paris grocery store terrorist as she investigated an auto accident? I’m somewhat uncomfortable with a minor then in the States to have civilian report takers and unarmed auxiliary police , such as the NYPD.

      I agree with the concept of a police shooting being a failure. Obviously, there are times when it is unavoidable, and some people need to be shot DRT. But a number of shootings, while justified, might have been avoided using other tactics. Even as a gun guy and instructor, The last thing I want to do is shoot somebody, particularly if I hadn’t controlled the tempo of the encounter from the start.

    • Edohiguma

      And don’t forget the Gendarmerie Nationale, they also carry, always have.

      The Front National is on the verge of becoming #1 party in France. The old Le Pen was a racist bugger, his daughter isn’t that bad. The points she makes are pretty good, much better than the lies Hollande throws around, or the mayor of Paris. And more and more French voters notice this.

    • Wetcoaster

      Sorta like city bylaw enforcement officers and reserve constables where I am then (Vancouver metro area, Canada). Yeah, arming them is a bit weird since force training doesn’t even seem to be part of their curriculum (no batons either)

    • sam

      Good explanation. I mean, at first glance, it seems like drama-llama-ism. But on further consideration, you know, people wanting to keep law enforcement as low key as possible makes sense to me.

  • John

    …why 7.65? The French military police switched to Beretta 92s in 9mm some years ago.

  • Blake

    Maybe they got a couple of pallets of Tokarev & TT-33s from the Serbians on the cheap.

  • sianmink

    “It’s the wild west with its cowboys”

    Yeah well you know one thing we didn’t see any of in the wild west?

    Islamist terrorists.

    Just saying.

    • Bill

      No, just the Range Wars, near constant conflict with the people we were displacing and putting on ‘reservations” for their own good, the Meadow Mountain Massacre, a war with our neighbors to the south, the raids of Pancho Villa, etc and so forth……

      Your point is right, but most people have a mistaken perception of the history of the American West, both Americans and foreigners.

      Besides, Dodge City banned guns within the city.

      • pun&gun

        So did Tombstone.

        • MR

          And either of those could be pointed to as about the most successful gun control campaign to date.

      • Anon. E Maus

        The Wild West was also one of the eras with the lowest crime rates in United States history, but nobody ever talks about that. There’s more violence in the US today by far, than there was then, even if violence has been declining since the 90’s.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    Je suis une victime!

  • n0truscotsman

    Well gee, welcome to earth.

    There will never be such thing as a “gun free” society because you cannot reverse-invent technology.

  • There are days where I hate this nation. Can’t I just give up my useless French nationality and move to America? I was clearly born in the wrong country…

    • abecido

      If you love freedom and honor the accomplishments of Western Civilization, please do. We’d be happy to have you.

      • Holdfast_II

        As someone who is going through the legal process, I’d suggest that Hebizuka just wade across the Rio Grande. The legit process is way too slow and expensive. Lots of Obama’s amnestied illegals will have citizenship before I do.

        • nadnerbus

          It might not be my place to speak to it, but I want to apologize as a US citizen for the Cluster Fluck that is legal immigration. It’s a damn travesty and I’m sorry that you have to wade through it.

          • Alter_Ego

            Thx nadnerbus.
            Plenty of European citizens that love the values of freedom and personal responsibility (plus have interest for the gun culture, for a lot of reasons) are tempted by immigrating in the USA.
            Often they already speak English, have a decent education, and some economic power… but they are put off by rules and regulations that de facto seem to prevent legal immigration much more than illegal immigration.
            Differently from the ancestors that moved to the now USA, we have too much to lose due to the “illegal” part of immigrating. So we stay away and often end up in UKstan. Like myself.
            I believe we both lose from this… but I’m biased of course. I’ll open my business here.

        • Very sad and disappointing to hear indeed… I don’t want to give up my desire to eventually move to the US and freer lands in general. Let’s just hope any possible future administrations make it easier for legal immigration candidates…

      • Bill

        We in the US owe a lot to the French. We wouldn’t be where we are today without their help. It’s a shame when their government forgets that stuff about liberty, equality and democracy. After they stopped beheading people.

        • noguncontrol

          the “liberty fraternity and equality” came with the beheadings, and was done by the beheaders , it was the beheaded King and Queen of France who helped and supported the American Revolution.

          the French Revolution that happened after the American Revolution, it was started by the beheaders, and was a communist revolution just like the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia centuries later.

  • J.J

    even the staunchest anti gun liberal in America probably wants the police to armed with firearms.

  • Gunhead

    Can we PLEASE go back to “Firearms, not Politics”?

    • At no point do I take any side in the article, which itself concerns more current events and law enforcement than actual politics.

      • Giolli Joker

        Yep, agreed, I see no politics here, yet the last three posts are (as topic, not in the the article itself) more fitting to TTAG than to TFB, and they’re especially a departure from the typical Nathaniel’s article.

        • I decided to mix it up a bit. Not the sort of content folks want to see here, or just a little too much all at once? Let me know by replying to this comment, guys; I want your feedback!

          • Giolli Joker

            Well, it personally doesn’t hurt me at all, I just found it a bit odd because it clearly differs from your usual target. As long as it won’t delay/replace more technical topics, it’s ok with me.
            Maybe, yep, I would put a cap on the frequency… the other blog has VERY valuable reviews and articles in the middle of a sea of the “Daily-Mail of guns”, I hope TFB will never give that feel.
            BTW, easy for me to reply here because Disqus notified me, but if you’re looking for feedback I’d suggest you to ask the question again in your next article.

      • echelon

        This is a topic that is political in nature, regardless of how the article was written. It opens up the debate to politics, morals, ethics, etc.

        I personally find these types of articles stimulating and the debate is good and necessary…but since TFB prides itself on being “Firearms not Politics”, it is a little silly when you guys post articles like this.

    • Yellow Devil

      Congratulations for discovering the internet.

      “Man is by nature a political animal.”
      ― Aristotle,

  • Cahal

    The majority of Muncipal Police in France are more akin to ‘parking enforcement officers’ who control traffic and enforce local by-laws. In Portugal I have seen Muncipal Police who carry only batons and spray. They carry out the same function as the M. Pol. in France. Many countries adopted the same approach to policing as the French. The French nervousness about arming Municipal policeman outside of cities is due to the fact they are controlled by a local politician who carries a lot of weight in small communities. Think ‘Boss Hog’ a la ‘Dukes of Hazzard ‘.

  • Harvey Morse

    I am dissappointed. Couldn’t the Mayor afford 50 caliber S&W pistols?

    We need everything we can get!

  • RICH

    What in God’s name is wrong with people that want to be protected by the Police yet they expect the Police to face TERRORISTS armed with full automatic weapons,…while the ‘Good Guys’ have to be UNARMED ! ! ? ?
    WTF is wrong with the French …… listen to Mayor Menard…. the man knows what is needed for this battle. This is not the end of what the French will experience with these friggin’ terrorists ! ! You must stand tall and have BACKBONE ! ! !
    As it reads Bernard Cazeneuve is another ‘liberal spineless wonder’. Cazeneuve probably wouldn’t act as a man should if his sister or mother were being raped ! ! !

  • RICH

    Believe me….. if you are dealing with terrorists you need all of the ‘armed’ police you can have. If the ‘Municipal Police’ are an unarmed force they need to be immediately trained with weapons, qualify, get certified and carry those weapons with with confidence to insure the protection of the French citizens. The Municipal Police would seem to me to be the first and most important line of defense for the French citizens ! They should be, and I am sure they would be, the French people’s first and most important line of defense if a local incident occurs with terrorists……. but they must be armed !!! Their obligation is to DEFEND the people they are SWORN TO PROTECT ! ! ! Please, for your own safety, train and arm your Municipal Police ! ! !

  • AnonymousCoward

    Seems like a silly argument. Last time I was in Paris it wasn’t unusual to see guys in camos & berets walking around with FAMAS rifles.

    • Anonymoose

      Same. Those are National Gendarmes. They’re pretty cool guys.

      • A.g.

        Surely not if in Camo. Certainly military unit deployed to protect tourist area during Vigipirate plan.

        • Anonymoose

          No, they were GN.

          • Parigot

            No, they were the french army

        • breversa

          The french armies (mainly ground forces, but the air force and navy may contribute too) are currently protecting many places in France, both in Paris and elsewhere, along with the police nationale and gendarmerie nationale.

          Soldiers wear camouflage uniforms (not sure about sailors though) and either berets (ground and air forces) or “calots” (navy) and carry standard-issue FAMAS (F1/infantry/improved/FÉLIN versions for ground and air forces, G2 version for navy).

          Policemen and gendarmes wear blue/dark blue uniforms and either calots or caps. They may be equipped with Beretta M12S (police) or MP5 (gendarmerie) along with their standard-issue SIGPro 2022.

  • Kevin Craig

    As Sir Robert Peel, the “father of modern policing”, had to say, the public should be armed and the police should not.

    That is the only way to assure the consent of the governed, when police rely on armed citizens to aid them.

    • noguncontrol

      that is an interesting theory.

    • MikeF

      Do you have the actual quote of Sir Robert Peel saying that?

  • noguncontrol

    republican values? more like statist values or socialist values, yuck! socialism doesnt make anyone safer except the leaders who have all the power.

    and 7.65? what is that? .32 acp?

    • A.g.

      “and 7.65? what is that? .32 acp?”

      French nomenclature for .32 acp. this caliber is the max alowed for this kind of police on semi auto firearms. Used until the beginning of the 80’s by the national police and pretty weak caliber.

  • Anonymoose

    You forgot the large influx of “refugees” from NATO’s Balkan “allies” who seem to do nothing but panhandle, when they’re not mugging and kidnapping people

  • Sulaco

    There was less violence and far less murders in the old “Wild West” towns per 1000 then any big city Democrate dominated city in the 21cent.

  • Tomáš

    The Prague Municipal Police was also criticized for buying Hummer H3s, assault rifles and full crowd control kit (crowd control is not part of their job, unlike the national police).

    But it has never got to the point that anyone would question their CZ 75s.

    I think anyone can guess what are the crime rates of Prague compared to any large city in France… (not to mention that Czech Republic has a shall issue concealed carry.)

    • Bill

      Hey, same thing in the US, but we got surplus, used to death HUMVEES and MRAPs that’ll probably kill more cops in accidents than actually be useful, and ‘Nam era M14s and M16s. You usually have to gut 3 of them to build 1. Same with the vehicles, for which we have no access to spare or replacement parts, except to strip them off other vehicles. And a 12 volt lightbar won’t work on a 24 volt vehicle. Actually it will, once, very briefly and very brightly.

    • Phil Hsueh

      Police getting Hummer H3s is an odd sort of thing to complain and it’s about getting a poser of a vehicle instead of a real Humvee or European equivalent.

  • wetcorps

    Well there is one thing I can’t deny the FN is good at: demagogy.

  • Mazryonh

    Is there a reason why this police force can’t simply use 9mm handguns? As a NATO ally, France should have a supply of those. If not (or if there aren’t enough), then the US can send them the M9s that’ll be replaced by the MHS program.

  • 6.5x55Swedish

    Swedish police are starting to take out their MP5’s from storage. They are now able to use them without any direct threats being identified but there is a big risk. So police officers can now equip the MP5 while guarding Jewish meetings etc.

  • Zebra Dun

    Dodge city may have banned guns but if the Apaches were to begin attacking it’s citizens I’m sure they would have turned the place into Coffeyville right riki tick.

  • Isaac FluffyWolf Rader

    If anything, getting 7.65mm pistols would be a downgrade for our police and we’d all get pissed. We do so love 9mm and .45. France? I hate the militarization of our police, but this is nowhere close to what we have. You’re complaining about something that’d be a trifle for Americans.

  • Fruitbat44

    Is it possible ‘The Telegraph’ barking up the wrong tree? I thought French Police were routinely armed anyway, and that the days of the “Continental Copper” carting a .32ACP was long gone.

  • Alter_Ego

    All the EU cities already see Military Police or soldiers with assault rifles helping for protection. I’m sure that during the Charlie Hebdo crisis, there were armed soldiers not farther than 500mt from the attackers. The issue is, Police don’ need more lethal or less-lethal weapons to use on citizens. They’ll always bee too far when needed, especially against a planned attack.
    It’s the citizens (is the victims) that need the guns!

    • Bill

      Take a walk through NYC when the NYPD does a surge drill or deploys a Hercules team.

  • Joel

    I am currently living in France. Why people would get so bent out of shape is beyond me. In France you will see three different police forces. There is the Police Nationale, who are all armed with Sig P2022s. They are commonly seen patrolling the streets in groups of about three. There are the Gendarmerie, who are technically part of the military and also carry Sig P2022s. They too are seen on foot patrol, but more often in the busier parts of Paris, like train stations and tourist areas. Finally there are the Police Municipale, who are the least numerous and are seen in groups of 2-4 on foot patrols and armed with “bear spray”-type pepper spray. These municipal officers are only 13% of all French police. That means that 87% of all police officers in France are armed with at least a Sig SP2022, and at most a Mini-14 or a Beretta M12. I mean, a few weeks ago after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, there were police officers in the shopping malls with submachine guns. And people are freaking out that the last 13% of officers are now carrying sidearms?

    • Joel

      Also, the Gendarmerie are responsible for small towns.

  • Fruitbat44

    Thank you to everyone who has explained about the different sorts of French Law Enforcement Officers: Police National, Gendarmes and Municipal Police.

  • MikeF

    I know he wanted the police unarmed, but I have never read anything suggesting he thought “the public should be armed.”

  • Uniform223

    I guess the reason that add is so offensive over there is that Europeans are just used to being disarmed. All the way back to the middle ages when “companies”, knights, royalty, or upper class were the only ones allowed to or able to have descent weapons, peasants just had to make to with what they had. Maybe I don’t know. But I gotta send emails and write letters to my sitting senator, mayor, congressman/woman, ect to oppose the m855 ban!!!

  • Kurt Akemann

    7.65mm… I know France once had submachineguns in that caliber. Do these pistols use the same cartridge?

  • Anon. E Maus

    “Criticized for promoting gun culture”
    Oh no, anything but THAT!