A quote from the French judge, Jean de Maillard (Vice-president of the Superior Court of Orléans, and a professor at the Institute of Political Science in Paris), 28 November 2007 [here is an English translation]
When two schools, a library, a police station, a garage and several other buildings on a list already forgotten are set on fire, not to mention dozens of vehicles each day, we are used to it. It has become almost a routine.
However, the second night of Villiers-le-Bel marks an escalation that the media and the government would probably prefer to hush up, but which may be the start of a new stage: the use of firearms. In truth, the surprise is not that the rioters began to use them, but first, that they hadn't done it sooner [...] and second, that they are still confining themselves to hunting rifles and lead shot. The suburbs however have been armed for a long time with caches of quality war weapons, lethal weapons, against which the bullet-proof vests will be useless.
In other words the situation is explosive in both meanings of the word. It seems that from one riot to the next the techniques harden, the methods become more professional and the police and gendarmes will soon have to confront, if they have not already, experts in urban guerilla warfare [...]
I am convinced that up until now we have been lucky that the thugs and future murderers in the suburbs have not yet dared to use their fire power. I hope that the public authorities will become aware of the imminence of calamity and especially that they will finally seek solutions. I would not like to be in their shoes, for the margin of maneuverability, if there is one, will be very narrow. Yes, the perpetrators must be mercilessly punished. But repression, in the long term, solves nothing.
And people must stop dreaming, those on the Left and the others: neighborhood police are not a panacea either. You cannot graft an ethnic police force ["police communautaire"] on a society that is this sick and torn apart, in which the members are in open rebellion against society. Police are a means, not a solution. Educators will not be useful either: you cannot cure cancer with a placebo. To shower the caids [a type of governorship, originally found in North Africa and Moorish Spain] with subsidies to buy armed peace will be the chosen way: it will provide only a short respite. Is there another solution? I don't know, and I am very happy not to be in government.