mardi 3 juin 2014

Gun Laws and protecting your property in France

We did not ought to have to protect ourselves. We have been asking this question all week. My husband is angry, after recent events and I am glad he did not find the tractor that very afternoon when he went out. We asked the mayor what we could do to protect ourselves. We don't have any guns. My husband cannot get a hunting license as the test is all in French and they say he is not allowed an interpreter. There is also a written exam about hunting regulations French style, and a course you are supposed to attend for 6 weeks. If this is all true, I am checking it now as it would be this farmer's family and friends who would be doing the tests and issuing the license, so I would imagine they would make it hard for anyone they did not want to join the hunt. In the UK you do not have to hunt to be eligible to have guns. You can belong to a shooting club that shoots inside, or just a collector of antique guns. And definitely in the UK and in Germany I think, it is the police that issue all firearms licenses, and they ask for medical reports. And certainly no one who is mentally unstable is allowed to own a gun but I know nothing about the tests for that. In the UK, the police are not so worried about legally owned guns, but by all the illegal guns being sneaked into the country, some by soldiers who have served in Afghanistan, or Iraq, but mostly illegally from other sources. It is not illegal to own a replica gun and there are thousands of these 'legally' imported every year, the crime is when these replicas are taken to illegal metal workers who then return these guns to a working state. Of course here is a steady market of imports legal or not from eastern Europe, especially Serbia, Bosnia etc whee there has been recent conflict. Next will be Ukraine I suppose, but they are using all they can keep in their own country at the moment, the traffic is reversed. No one we have asked could tell us how you could protect yourself from anyone arriving with a gun? In UK we have "reasonable force" you can use reasonable force against a burglar, but not shoot him. There have been some very stupid court cases where the criminals have sued the victims when they have been injured while committing a crime. And not always injured by the victim. There have been one or two criminals who have successfully sued because they have fallen climbing into a property and managed to say the wall or something was dangerous!! Or the dog protecting the family bit the intruder and the criminal won a case against them and the dog was destroyed!! Our big dog is so imprinted on me and close to me, I think he would attack if I was being attacked. That is exactly what we wanted in a dog. You can see how he naturally protects, he stays close to the end wall of the mill and as people approach he barks and makes eye contact with them, backing up all the time so that he is between me and the visitor. Until I tell him it's OK and usually give the visitor a kiss. After people have visited a few times he just barks a few times and sits down on the doorstep. For some reason Our dog dislikes our trouble making neighbour, The cow farmer, and continues to bark at him, and we let him because it rattles The man! He sneaks around our property at about 7 am. I can tell the dog to stop, and if I walk towards the house and say "viens ici" (come here) he follows immediately and I can shut him inside. So I don't see how the mayor can say someone says our dog is not in control. It can only be The cow farmer or the vine grower. The dog barks at The vine grower's weedkiller tractor and machine. He is a big, imposing dog and when he stares and barks he is frightening. But the other day when my husband and I were both having a siesta, he let our tenant, a massive man, arrive and walk up to the house, open the door and put a bag of egg boxes inside for us, but then he knows him well. But I would guess he would not let The cow farmer do the same!! I love my dog to bits but we did get him as a guard dog and if he takes a bullet for us then unfortunately so be it, sounds callous but I would rather still have Dave of course if I had to choose. I hope all I have written never comes true but defending yourself and your property is no easy thing in Europe and particularly in this part of wild France where arguments have always been settled quickly and violently for hundreds of years.

Village life, dumping humanure on our drive

I was asking questions at a village council meeting, on behalf of other residents, as is my job as a councillor! And another councillor took it personally. He rents out an old farm building for 'storage', but the tenants storing equipment there have turned up with about 7 RVs and converted army lorries and are clearly living there. Other residents have seen human poop floating down the little stream that runs past these unusual residents towards the river that runs through our village. So I asked the obvious questions at a council meeting, where do they empty their toilets, get their water from etc. and do they contribute to rubbish removal like all residents. The owner of the land, a farmer is also a councillor and was very defensive as usual, 'not my problem', 'i just rent it to them', 'I am not responsible' etc. but the council agreed to check if there is any pollution. The owner stayed for a beer after the meeting and left smiling. The minutes of the meeting covered the discussion well, and the promise of the council to check that there is no environmental pollution satisfied me and other residents. The only thing slightly wrong was it said I asked the questions, and not that I had asked the questions on behalf of other residents. The minutes of the meeting were posted publicly on the wall outside the town hall. Next day, just before I got back from the craft workshop, the farmer drove his tractor over our bridge and dumped a load of human shit beside our well, beside the river, I think it was destined to be dumped outside our front door, but Our big guard dog was barking aggressively, and thankfully the farmer chose to reverse and not drive at him! I rang the mayor when I got back, and my husband went to look for the tractor as he had not seen the driver well. The next morning, my friend , an 86 year old english woman, who lives next door to the farmer, had an early visit, before she was up. A then jovial farmer admitted it was him and threatened me through my friend by saying, "if she (me) wants shit, I have plenty more for her and worse!" Whatever "worse" is?? He obviously thinks he is untouchable! The Mayor did not ring back until Wednesday evening, but more or less said it was my fault for asking the questions!! I was not happy. And couldn't finish the conversation with him in any language!! My husband managed to agree to the mayor coming round the next day, Thursday. He did so, and was a little calmer than when he said it was my fault! He had talked to others in the meantime. He said the farmer had realised he was wrong to do that! OK so what was he going to do about it? Apologise? No, he didn't think the farmer would what then, nothing? The mayor said he realised the farmer was hot headed, a bit of a psychopath (!)......I was shocked, so we have psychopaths running around in tempers with loads of shit and shotguns? Eventually, he agreed to call a meeting Monday to discipline the farmer, how, I don't know? Anyway, the latest is he rang just before the meeting today to cancel it. Now I think I will take the legal option and go to make a complaint at the Gendarmes. Although my friend has pleaded with me not to as she thinks he is capable of getting out his gun, "and we don't want to be going to anyone's funeral!", is what she said!! How can this guy still have his gun license? Because they are issued by the hunting association and not the police. My friend, who is 86, poor woman had another early morning visit this morning from the farmer's mother! Ranting and raving at her just because she is my friend. However she also added something which made my friend and I think along different lines. The woman started accusing me, and her because of the eco association we belong to, saying that we had to disband the association etc. Now we think there is a deeper problem here.....the president of this Association is A man who caused a lot of problems for us last summer. He is trying to get rid of me from the association, but really the association has not functioned for nearly two years. Anyway This man, who is also 86, appeared at a meeting arranging a fete for all associations in September and suddenly proclaimed that our association was campaigning against all the farmers and making sure they all stick to the regulations about weedkillers the plot thickens here as we (my friend and I) now think that this has got around the village and has wound up the farmers again. This could be the old goat's way of getting at me too. So how's that for a complicated soap opera tale of village life? Do I make a complaint to the Gendarmes so they are aware that a man, the mayor considers is a psychopath, is running around dumping shit and threatening "worse". He has already over the years, tried to push our Land Rover with my husband inside, off a narrow mountain road, threatened another friend of mine when she was post mistress, after she made a formal complaint following the farmer's dog biting her on two occasions. The outcome of that complaint was the farmer drove up to my friend's car as she and her husband had just driven out of their driveway. Stopped his tractor in front of her car, touching the bumper, slammed his gun down on the roof of the car, dragged her husband out and headbutted him breaking his nose. These people were so frightened they made no further complaint, and I think withdrew their original complaint, so the farmer got away with it completely. How has this guy still got his gun license?? Oh yes, I forgot, the hunters issue the licenses.....and the head man is a relative of his ! Say no more.....! It's weeks like this that make me really want to leave here, but then I look at my garden and animals and realise why I am here. Before the mayor left on Thursday, he more or less said in the same you are not going to complain to the police are need to be careful of your dog you know I have had a complaint from a farmer who couldn't cross the land behind you because your dog was barking at him? A veiled threat if ever there was one?don't complain or we'll complain (or worse) about your dog. One of these days racists in France will get their comeuppance! All expats in France can probably expect more attacks like this since the National Front got so many votes in the European elections.