France’s former education minister, Luc Ferry, made the comments. Mr Ferry served in Jacques Chirac’s government. He is now a philosophiser.
Speaking during an interview with Classic Radio, Mr Ferry suggested the French authorities should be permitted to fire weapons at protesters.
He said: “What I don’t understand is that we don’t give the means to the police to put an end to this violence.”
Mass uprisings in France have been going on since November 17, initially in defiance of rising fuel prices.
The demonstrators have been wearing yellow high-vis jackets, which all French motorists must carry with them by law.
Mr Ferry’s intervention has focussed minds on the increasing law and order crisis facing the country.
When pressed on the fact guns could lead to wounding or worse, Mr Ferry said: “So what?
“Listen, frankly, when you see guys beating up an unfortunate policeman on the floor, that’s when they should use their weapons once and for all. That’s enough!”
He added: “We have the fourth largest army in the world, and it is able to put an end to this crap.
“These kinds of thugs, this kind of crap from the extreme Right, the extreme Left and from the housing estates that come to hit the police, that’s enough.”
Law enforcement officers were attacked in major cities including Paris on Saturday in a sign of the continued tension.
There were especially aggressive scenes in the French capital, where video footage showed a former boxer beat up two gendarmes on a Seine bridge.
The Yellow Vest protestors tend to hold conservative views and come from working-class people from the provinces.
France President Emmanuel Macron has announced a crackdown on the dissidents, pleading new anti-riot laws to confront them.
Mr Ferry conceded: “The problem is that it is a movement that has attracted the support of 80 percent of the French.
“When we get to that point, we have to go back to the electorate.”