The article, written during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October 2011) presents acts of armed domestic violence as "family tragedies" and the murder by a young intern of his partner by playing with his gun as a "fatal accident". The article thus lacks analysis and context, as these are not isolated tragedies, but acts of armed domestic violence, phenomena that is more common than the article suggests.

Following three suicides and three acts of armed domestic violence in less than a month by police officers using their firearms, this article in TF1 News questions the right of police officers to keep their firearm at home. However, the article only provides the perspectives of the Ministry of the Interior and the Police Union, evidently favourable to the right of police officers to keep their guns at home.

France: Should police officers be banned from keeping their firearms at home?
TF1 News (France), 19 October 2011, by Alexandra Guillet

After a series of suicides and other tragic events involving police officers using their firearms at home, the question needs to be asked more than ever. But neither the Ministry of the Interior nor the Police Unions envisage such a solution for now.

22 September: A policeman fatally shot his partner before turning the gun against himself. At the same time, another policeman used his arm to kill himself in his car. Several days later, a policewoman, aged 26, killed her partner, also a policeman, before turning the gun against herself. At the origin of the crime, "a love deception." Last Sunday, a 22 year old intern fatally injured his partner while playing with his gun. All these tragedies beg the question: should police officers be banned from keeping their firearms at home?

Pierre-Henri Brandet, spokesperson of the Ministry of the Interior, says, "We must deplore these tragedies" but these are "marginal" when considering the 135,000 police officers who have a gun in France. Insisting on the fact that "most suicides occur in the workplace rather than at home", "no revision to the procedure of armament of policemen is being considered" by the Ministry of the Interior. He recalls that on the contrary that, "many tragedies and crimes are stopped just in time, thanks to police officers who keep their guns with them on their commute from work to home."

In a general context of suicide prevention, the Director General of the police requested a study in October 2010 from the General Inspection of the national police. The work groups will soon submit their recommendations on the possession and carrying of guns.

The current legislation is that policemen can only possess a firearm on the territory where they work. (IANSA comment – it is not clear what the range of this is, whether the region, the department, the town, county etc.)

In the home, a police officer must put their guns away in a safe or a secured briefcase after having dissociated the loader/magazine from the firearm. If a police officer takes leave for more than 5 days, his or her gun must be kept at the police station where he/she works, in a safe.

Better training and prevention above all

The Police Unions are not in favour of a change in the legislation. They say, "Because of his work and status, a police officer is in service 24/7 and may have to use his/her weapon at any moment to protect themselves or others in self-defence. Leaving guns at the police station would require infrastructure that doesn't exist today".

However, prevention and training could be improved. They add, "Of course guns facilitate the act of suicide, but prevention cannot only be limited to the confiscation of the gun. The solution requires a better psychological follow up for these state agents who soak up of all society's tragedies on a daily basis. Debriefings, which should be done daily, are almost never done."

And to avoid dramatic incidents, such as the one that occurred last weekend, the Police Unions recommend better awareness-raising on safely securing and storing firearms during the training of young recruits.

The original article in French is online at: http://lci.tf1.fr/france/faits-divers/faut-il-interdire-aux-policiers-de...