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.
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.
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