A man was arrested at a Disneyland Paris hotel with two handguns, ammunition, and a copy of the Koran, although his motives remain unclear amid conflicting reports.
A source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Channel News Asia that the man set off the metal detector while walking into the hotel. Another anonymous source described the arrest.
“[Hotel staff] detected upon his arrival at the Disneyland hotel where he had a reservation. Hotel security found two handguns, a Koran and ammunition on him.”
Police were called, who then detained the man while they searched his vehicle.
Police also arrested and briefly detained a woman, who was believed to be the suspect’s girlfriend. However, that woman was released after she convinced police they had the wrong woman. The suspect’s girlfriend is still at large as of this writing.
Papers found on the suspect indicate that he is a resident of Paris, although no further information about him has yet been made public.
The suspect’s motives remain unclear. According to Channel News Asia, he had the guns simply because he “feared for his safety.” An anonymous police source said that the initial investigation does not suggest the man’s actions indicated a potential terrorist act.
According to Bustle, France has extremely restrictive gun laws.
“Unlike in the U.S., France does not have a ‘right to bear arms’ — the right to privately own a gun is not protected by law. In order to purchase a firearm, one must first obtain a hunting or shooting sport license, which requires a psychological evaluation and regular renewal.”
However, Bustle also points out that a thriving black market of illegal firearms, channeled through Eastern Europe, exists in France.
Whether the Disneyland Paris suspect possessed his guns legally is not clear.
France has been on high alert for terrorism since the November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris. Islamist jihadists affiliated with ISIS detonated bombs and opened fire in coordinated attacks that killed over 130 people and injured hundreds more. France remains under a state of emergency after the attacks, and President Francois Hollande has advocated for extending the state of emergency despite opposition from civil rights groups.
Disneyland Paris closed briefly after the attacks.
Since the Paris attacks, security has been increased at Disney and other theme parks in the U.S., according to a December New York Post report. Three major Orlando-area Theme Parks – Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Sea World – all announced in December that guests would be required to go through metal detectors before entering the theme parks. Disney took the additional steps of discontinuing the sale of toy guns insides its parks, as well as prohibiting children from wearing costumes when entering the park (adults over 14 were already prohibited from wearing costumes to Disney parks except on special events, such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party).
Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, expressed sadness that the problem of violence has reached as far as a family theme park such as a Disney park.
“Now, families can’t even go to ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ to escape the realities of gun violence in this country.”
This is a breaking news story. More information about the Disneyland Paris arrest will be published as it becomes available.
[Image via Shutterstock/Pavel L Photo and Video]