As some of you may be aware, when you subscribe to the French Shooting Federation to shoot for sport and do the required legal paperwork, you can acquire a firearm for the sole purpose of practicing shooting at a shooting range (you can't carry it on you; you can only transport it between your home and your shooting range). As such, the firearm is as much a sport equipment as a bow or a javelin/spear for example.

The safety rules are clear:

  • Always consider a weapon as loaded.
  • Never point the gun toward a target you don't wish to destroy (or point it only toward a target you want to destroy).
  • Only put your finger on the trigger when you took your aim and are ready to shoot.
  • Be aware of your target and its surrounding (i.e. if it goes through, make sure no one is behind).

Along with the safety rules, you have one specific rule in the French Shooting Federation flier (this one is from 2016) that says (page 4):

interdiction absolue de viser quelqu’un sous peine de radiation

Which translates into: "It is strictly forbidden to target someone/point your gun toward someone; if you do, you will be banned" (i.e. most likely your license will be revoked, your firearm(s) will be taken away, and you will be on the files of people who are forbidden from owning a firearm).

Now, let's assume I am a law abiding citizen who acquired a firearm for leisure shooting at a shooting range, which I am storing unloaded in a locked safe at home. Someone breaks into my home and I end up in a life threatening situation (either one of my family members or myself). I somehow manage to have my firearm loaded with a chambered round and use it to threaten the assailant.

If the assailant decided later on to sue me for improper usage of a sport firearm, what would be the legal consequences for me (the leisure shooter who acquired a firearm only for sport)? What if I shot and injured the assailant?

1 Answer 1


Although the assailant (or their estate if they are killed) could lodge a claim for damages it does not necessarily follow that they would win - they would have to show that the shooting was not legitimate self-defence but rather was unlawful by, for example, negligence or use of excessive force - say by shooting them when they didn't pose an immediate and unjustified threat.

The Federation rules, as far as I can see, are not actual legislation. Although they should be adhered to in normal circumstances, this shooting would be, in the given circumstances, legitimate self-defence according to Article 122-5 of the Code Pénal which says:

N'est pas pénalement responsable la personne qui, devant une atteinte injustifiée envers elle-même ou autrui, accomplit, dans le même temps, un acte commandé par la nécessité de la légitime défense d'elle-même ou d'autrui, sauf s'il y a disproportion entre les moyens de défense employés et la gravité de l'atteinte.

N'est pas pénalement responsable la personne qui, pour interrompre l'exécution d'un crime ou d'un délit contre un bien, accomplit un acte de défense, autre qu'un homicide volontaire, lorsque cet acte est strictement nécessaire au but poursuivi dès lors que les moyens employés sont proportionnés à la gravité de l'infraction.

Which Google translates to English as:

The person who, in the face of an unjustified attack on himself or others, performs, at the same time, an act ordered by the necessity of the self-defense of himself or of others, is not criminally liable, except 'there is a disproportion between the means of defense employed and the seriousness of the infringement.

The person who, in order to interrupt the execution of a crime or an offense against property, performs an act of defense, other than intentional homicide, when this act is strictly necessary for the aim pursued, is not criminally liable. provided that the means employed are proportionate to the gravity of the offense.

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