Swiss vote to preserve private gun ownership
A country of fewer than eight million residents has nearly three million private firearms, maybe more. In Canada, the federal government estimates there are seven million guns for a population of 34 million.
A sign which reads “Destroying Swiss values? No to the useless guns initiative” is seen in Gonten. Switzerland, which has the highest rate of suicide by firearms in Europe, voted on Sunday whether to abolish its long-standing tradition of letting citizens keep army-issued weapons at home.
Switzerland may cherish its neutrality, but under that peaceful exterior lies a citizenry armed to the teeth. And they mean to stay that way: Swiss voters have just spurned a referendum that would have stopped its soldiers from keeping weapons in the home and tightened up gun ownership rules for civilians.
After a heated national debate, exit polls showed that 57 percent of voters stood by the army’s right to bear arms, reports the Wall Street Journal. Europeans may look down their noses at American gun culture, but the Swiss aren’t far behind the United StatesÂ in firearms per capita. In fact, while the United StatesÂ has largely relinquished the idea of the citizen-soldier, it remains a cornerstone of Swiss military culture, which relies upon a Minutemen-style conscripted army in place of a standing one. Yet advocacy groups have argued that the prevalence of firearms leads to increased suicides and homicides. Opponents of the referendum, including the Swiss government, said that gun laws are tight enough. The referendum was particularly unpopular in rural areas where recreational shooting is a favored pastime. The Wall Street Journal