Contrary to popular belief (and misconception), private ownership of firearms in France is permitted as is concealed carry. It is up to the individual town or regional government whether they permit carrying of firearms and a justifiable need has to be established. My wife and I vacation in the south of France (Provence) with another couple who have hunting firearms and the husband has a number of handguns. This particular town is very safe as we have the local gendarmerie (local police force) and a post of the National Police (akin to a combination of the FBI and U.S. Marshal Service), right next to the post office. The local gendarmerie actually helped us get our permits. For those of us who are used to going to the local gun shop and purchasing a gun on demand (save, the time necessary to complete the telephone NICS background check), this may seem like an undue restriction and hassle, however, if you want to have a gun, you have some hoops to jump through.
Efforts to acquire a handgun permit and purchase a handgun in a larger city such as Paris, Marseille, Calais, or Toulon may be more cumbersome or difficult because the local prefecture doesn't want to issue permits (although they have to unless the person is prohibited) and the police may stall your efforts by losing your paperwork or insisting on interviewing you at times that are inconvenient. Plus, the local police in the bigger cities aren't as invested in knowing you and developing a relationship with you as the local gendaremie in smaller towns.
Another notion (and fallacy) is that you cannot own military style weapons. Provided that the firearm is not full auto and is used for sporting purposes, it can be owned by civilians. You are restricted to 1000 rounds of ammo per firearm caliber and typically will only be permitted to own one handgun of a particular caliber.
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