French Presidential Palace Guard Wounded in Apparent Negligent Discharge

    French Police with PM12

    French Police on guard at palais de l'Elysée (Patrick Kovarik/AFP)

    French weekly news magazine L’Orbs has reported a series of negligent discharges by members of the Paris Police guarding the Palais de l’Elysée, the official residence of the French President.

    L’Orbs note that at least three incidents have been reported by le Canard enchaîné (the Chained Duck), one of France’s satirical weekly newspapers. While the term satirical newspaper may make you think of The Onion or Duffel Blog, le Canard enchaîné is known for its factual investigative journalism.

    French police contract Heckler & Koch UMP 9x19mm (J. Le Gall/Ouest-France)

    During the three incidents, French police officers (part of the CSPR – French presidential security detail) have inadvertently fired their weapons. Two have put rounds into the walls of sentry booths but more seriously a third reportedly put several rounds into his own leg as he got into a vehicle. It isn’t clear if the officers were part of the Gendarmerie’s Republican Guard or if they were members of Police Nationale.

    This spate of accidental discharges may be the result of the French police recently transitioning from older Beretta PM12s to new 9x19mm Heckler & Koch UMP submachine guns. Back in March 2017, French Police Nationale and Gendarmerie Nationale began to receive 5,000 new submachine guns to replace their older Berettas.

    Officer of the Police Nationale outside the Palais de l’Elysée, armed with a Beretta PM12 (P.KOVARIK/AFP)

    Although some officers have been equipped with the MP5 in the past, it may be that officers are used to the Beretta PM12’s numerous safeties including a manual safety and a grip safety. In contrast, the HK UMP has a single manual safety/fire selector. It may be that officers require further safety training with the new weapons.
    It seems that the UMP had been carried with the bolt closed but a round in the chamber, according to L’Obs an order has now been given to carry the weapon with the bolt closed – but as the UMP is a closed bolt submachine gun, the order likely calls for the chamber to be empty.


    ‘En trois mois, trois agents chargés de garder l’Elysée auraient ouvert le feu par erreur’, L’Obs, retrieved 17/01/18, source

    ‘Voici le nouvel arsenal des policiers et gendarmes’, Ouest France, retrieved 17/01/18, source

    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]