More than 150,000 firearms for 270,000 inhabitants in New Caledonia? Surreal numbers

In the grip of violent riots which have already left several dead, New Caledonia has the reputation of having many weapons in circulation on its territory.

More than 150,000 firearms for 270,000 inhabitants in New Caledonia? Surreal numbers

In the grip of violent riots which have already left several dead, New Caledonia has the reputation of having many weapons in circulation on its territory. What about it?

Since Monday and the constitutional reform aimed at expanding the electorate in New Caledonia, the territory has been plagued by riots of rare violence. The High Commissioner of the Republic of New Caledonia has reported in recent days "tense shooting with large caliber weapons, large hunting rifles, on the gendarmes". On Wednesday, the death toll was already four and Emmanuel Macron declared a state of emergency. The Renaissance MP for New Caledonia, Nicolas Metzdorf, sounded the alarm at the microphone of BFMTV. “We could slide into civil war, the Caledonians protect themselves,” he feared. And the elected official affirms that, on the archipelago, “there are 250,000 inhabitants for 100,000 weapons”.

Exact numbers? First, it seems that on January 1, 2023, the population of New Caledonia was closer to 270,000 inhabitants than 250,000. 268,510 is the precise figure put forward by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee ). As for the number of weapons in circulation, the figures given are not precise and remain mainly estimates. Rapporteur of the permanent information mission on the institutional future of New Caledonia in 2015,  Jean-Jacques Urvoas spoke again Tuesday evening in Le Figaro of New Caledonia as “a territory of 270,000 inhabitants, and of which we know today today that, legally or hiddenly, there are between 60,000 and 100,000 weapons.” And to mention in passing the recent looting of armories which took place during the night from Monday to Tuesday in Nouméa.

While between November 25 and December 2, 2022, an exceptional “simplified weapons abandonment” operation had been organized by the State in New Caledonia, NC La 1ère reported, that at the time, a Caledonian out of four were armed and that nearly 64,000 declared weapons were in circulation. On the other hand, 64,000 to 128,000 weapons were in circulation illegally, according to figures from the New Caledonian High Commission.

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