Last week, when we looked at the French government’s plans to “crack down” on the yellow vest protesters and rioters, it sounded like they were just passing new laws to allow for jail time for unauthorized marches. While a bit on the heavy-handed side, it still sounded like typical law enforcement in a more socialist-style government. But now the concept of a “crackdown” has definitely been taken to the next level. The riot control officers are breaking out the semiautomatic rifles and issuing live ammunition to deal with the crowds. (Daily Mail) See update at the end of the article.

French riot police have deployed semi-automatic weapons with live ammunition against Yellow Vest protestors for the first time.

Officers were filmed brandishing Heckler & Koch G36 weapons by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday afternoon. The presence of semi-automatic rifles at a demonstration by unarmed French citizens shows how President Emmanuel Macron’s law and order crisis spirals.

It comes after former conservative minister Luc Ferry called for live fire to be used against the ‘thugs’ from the Yellow Vest movement who he says ‘beat up police’.

Here’s a picture of the H&K G36 that the riot police are sporting.

Hey, wait a minute here. Isn’t that an… “assault rifle?” The left-side American media has been awfully quiet about the use of tear gas and pepper spray in France while describing similar tactics in use at our southern border as the deployment of “chemical weapons.” I wonder if this news will attract their attention.

Here’s some video that a Twitter user recorded of the riot police stepping out with their new toys.

If the normal routine of unarmed police with batons and riot shields wasn’t doing the trick, you might understand if they escalated the arms race a bit by going with tear gas, bean bag guns or rubber bullets. But jumping straight to live ammo sounds a bit… excessive, doesn’t it?

While I understand the need for the government to maintain order, keep in mind that many of the yellow vest squads are not engaged in rioting. (Though some clearly are.) They are out in the streets petitioning their government for a redress of grievances. That video you just watched is how their government is responding.

I don’t want to put too fine of a point on this, but the current situation in Paris is a good reminder of why the United States originally formed the type of government we have with certain rights defined for its citizens. Once you allow the government to take away your guns while they keep theirs, the balance of power is too far gone to overcome. And the next thing you know, your protest is being met in this fashion.

UPDATE: (Jazz) An alert reader sent in a link to some product information which casts doubt on The Atlantic’s description of the weapons being issued. Straight from the manufacturer, the Heckler & Koch G36 lists three modes of fire, coded as SEF. This translates to “safe, single-round (semiautomatic), and fully automatic.”

It’s certainly possible that France is ordering special, custom-made weapons without the fully automatic mode, but that would seem like an odd choice, not to mention costing more. So it’s at least possible that the riot squads are out there with fully automatic rifles.