Switzerland Has A Stunningly High Rate Of Gun Ownership - Here's Why It Doesn't Have Mass Shootings


Rosie McCall 27 Feb 2018, 18:45

Most Swiss men are required to learn how to use a gun.

Unlike the US, Switzerland has mandatory military service for men.

All men between the ages of 18 and 34 deemed "fit for service" are given a pistol or a rifle and trained.

After they've finished their service, the men can typically buy and keep their service weapons, but they have to get a permit for them.

In recent years, the Swiss government has voted to reduce the size of the country's armed forces.

Switzerland is a bit like a well-designed fort.

Switzerland's borders are basically designed to blow up on command, with at least 3,000 demolition points on bridges, roads, rails, and tunnels around the landlocked European country.

John McPhee put it this way in his book "La Place de la Concorde Suisse":

"Near the German border of Switzerland, every railroad and highway tunnel has been prepared to pinch shut explosively. Nearby mountains have been made so porous that whole divisions can fit inside them."

Roughly a quarter of the gun-toting Swiss use their weapons for military or police duty.

In 2000, more than 25% of Swiss gun owners said they kept their weapon for military or police duty, while less than 5% of Americans said the same.

In addition to the militia's arms, the country has about 2 million privately owned guns — a figure that has been plummeting over the past decade.

The Swiss government has estimated that about half of the privately owned guns in the country are former service rifles. But there are signs the Swiss gun-to-human ratio is dwindling.

In 2007, the Small Arms Survey found that Switzerland had the third-highest ratio of civilian firearms per 100 residents (46), outdone by only the US (89) and Yemen (55).

But it seems that figure has dropped over the past decade. It's now estimated that there's about one civilian gun for every four Swiss people.

Gun sellers follow strict licensing procedures.

Swiss authorities decide on a local level whether to give people gun permits. They also keep a log of everyone who owns a gun in their region, known as a canton, though hunting rifles and some semiautomatic long arms are exempt from the permit requirement.

But cantonal police don't take their duty dolling out gun licenses lightly. They might consult a psychiatrist or talk with authorities in other cantons where a prospective gun buyer has lived before to vet the person.

Some lawmakers in US states including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are considering a similar model.

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