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Gun Control in Switzerland

With gun control being in the headlines again we thought we‘d take a look at what the gun control situation is in Switzerland.

Switzerland has a reputation as a gun loving country, internationally it comes in at number 18 out 178 countries having the most guns (2016). With military service being mandatory for young men and seeing as they are issued with weapons during their service, this would partially explain why 22% of households are known to have a gun. Hunting and target shooting also are two popular sports which helps to account for a large number of the guns in the country.

If you look at deaths caused by guns, 24% of suicides and 29% of homicides are committed with a fire weapon. There were 17 homicides in 2015, so that would be roughly 5 people killed by a fire arm that year; the homicide rate is at 0.5 per 100 000 inhabitants. There has been only one case of a mass shooting in the area and that took place in 2001 at the Zug Parlament when a man shot at the assembly killing 14 civil servants before taking his own life.

Acquiring a gun in Switzerland is a highly regulated affair.

In order to buy a gun, the buyer must obtain a weapon acquisition permit. Swiss citizens and foreigners with a C permit over the age of 18 who are deemed psychologically fit, not identified as posing security problems, and who have a clean criminal record can request such a permit. Foreigners with the following citizenship are explicitly excluded from the right to possess weapons: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Algeria and Albania.

Once a buyer has acquired a gun, they will have to go through the same process to get ammunition, and maybe that could explain why having so many weapons in the country doesn‘t lead to more incidents. Because the possession of ammunition is strictly controlled. The ammunition must be kep separatly from the weapons, and since 2007 soldiers must leave the ammunition for their weapons with the army. Many forms of ammunition are prohibited.

As for carrying a loaded gun this is even stricter, with border patrols, airport security or forest wardens being pretty much the only exemptions.

As of August 2018 Switzerland will have to fall in line with the European Union‘s rules, known as the “EU Gun Ban”, it introduces new restrictions on firearms possession and acquisition, especially on semi-automatic firearms, personal defense weapons, magazine capacity, blank firing guns and historical firearms.

Civil rights organizations plan to hold a referendum to reject the recent EU directive.

In conclusion it seems that you can still be a country with a lot of weapons and manage to keep the arsenal in relatively safe hands.

 

charlie.hartmann@livinginluzern.swiss

Charlie Hartmann is the managing director of the Living in Luzern organisation which focuses on helping international residents connect, grow and thrive in Switzerland.

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