New figures show that in New Caledonia the number of sales of high-powered arms has tripled in the last two years.
The French High Commission in Noumea says this follows the liberalisation of the gun law two years ago to make it easier for hunters to obtain rifles.
It says last year an additional 4,500 guns have come into circulation.
This means that there are nearly 50,000 weapons in the territory or about one firearm for every three adults.
Under the new law, it is sufficient to produce an identity card, a hunting licence and a medical certificate confirming physical and mental aptitude to buy a firearm.
There is no limit on the number of arms that an individual may buy.