Unofficial Translation of Swiss Federal Law Regarding Weapons, Weapon Accessories, and Ammunition
(Sans Application Ordinance)
THE BELOW TEXT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSLATION. THE TRANSLATOR, Emmanuel Baechler, DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY FOR THE USE OF THE TEXT BELOW. THE READER IS URGED TO REFER TO THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENT IN GERMAN, FRENCH, OR ITALIAN FOR CITATIONAL PURPOSES.
Federal law regarding weapons, weapon accessories and ammunition.
June 20, 1997
The Federal Assembly of the Swiss Confederation, considering Article 40 of the constitution, considering the message of the Federal Council of January 24, 1996, adopts:
Chapter One: General Clauses
SECTION 1: Purpose, field of application and definitions.
Article 1: Purpose
1. The current law's purpose is to hinder the abusive use of weapons, weapon accessories and ammunition.
2. It governs the purchase, import, export, transit, storage, carrying, transport, dealing, manufacture, and commerce of:
Article 2: Field of application
a. weapons, essential elements of weapons, and weapon accessories;
b. ammunition and ammunition components.
1. The current law does not apply to the army, nor to military administrations, nor to custom and police authorities.
2. Are not covered by the present law:3. Regulations concerning the federal laws of December 13, 1996 about war equipment, and June 20, 1986 about hunting, are reserved.
a. antique weapons;
b. air and CO2 weapons;
c. weapons for which proper ammunition is not more commercialized or manufactured.
Article 3: Right to purchase, own, and carry weapons
The right to purchase, own and carry weapons is warranted within the frame of the present law.
Article 4: Definitions
1. By weapons, one means:
2. By weapon accessory, one means:
a. devices able to throw projectiles by means of a propulsive load or objects liable to be transformed into such devices (shoulder or hand-firearms);
b. devices which are meant to damage the long-term health of human beings by spraying or atomizing substances;
c. daggers and knives with a pivoting, falling or retractable blade having a mechanism that can be operated by a single hand;
d. devices designed to wound human beings, especially knuckle dusters, simple and spring-powered truncheons, launched stars, launched blades, and high-powered catapults;
e. devices producing electrical shocks prone to inhibit human beings' strength or to degrade their long-term health.3. The Federal Council determines the objects that are to be considered as essential weapon elements.
b. laser aiming devices and night aiming devices.
4. Shooting devices with a propelling charge, the energy of which can be transferred by ignition to a projectile in a hand or shoulder firearm, is considered to be ammuntion.
SECTION 2: General interdictions and restrictions
Article 5: Prohibited acts related to firearms
1. Forbidden is the purchase, carry, sale and importation of:2. It is forbidden to shoot with automatic weapons.
a. automatic firearms and automatic firearms converted to semi-automatic shoulder or hand-firearms;
b. weapons mentioned in Article 4, Paragraph 1, Letter c;
c. weapons mentioned in Article 4, Paragraph 1, Letters d and e;
d. weapons imitating an everyday object;
e. weapon accessories.
3. Cantons may authorize exceptions.
4. The Federal Council determines the weapons forbidden in Paragraph 1, Letter b. It can make exceptions.
5. Automatic ordnance firearms converted to semi-automatic hand-firearms are not considered to be weapons in the sense of Paragraph 1, Letter a.
6. Weapons and weapon accessories mentioned in Paragraph 1 may be inherited.
Article 6: Restrictions applicable to devices defined in Article 4.
The Federal Council may forbid or restrict the purchase, manufacture and importation of devices mentioned in Article 4, Paragraph 1, Letter b and of ammunition and ammunition components which are not used in common shooting events or for hunting (special ammunition).
Article 7: Restrictions applicable to peculiar conditions
1. The Federal Council may forbid the purchase of weapons, essential weapon elements, weapon accessories, ammunition, ammunition components, and the carrying of weapons by nationals of some nations:2. It can, for the same reasons, forbid the export of these objects to some countries.
a. when there is a serious risk of abuse;
b. in order to take into account the decisions of the international community or the principles of Switzerland's foreign policy.
Chapter Two: Purchase of Weapons and Essential Weapon Components
Section 1: Purchase by Swiss citizens or by foreign nationals having a permanent residency permit
Article 8: Purchase from a shopkeeper
1. Every person purchasing a weapon or an essential weapon component from a shopkeeper must be the holder of a weapons purchase permit.
2. No weapons purchase permit is delivered to persons:3. The weapons puchase permit will be issued by the appropriate authority of the canton of residency or, for Swiss citizens living abroad, by the appropriate authority of the canton where the weapon is acquired. It is valid throughout Switzerland.
a. who are not over 18 years of age;
b. who are forbidden;
c. where there is a reasonable suspicion that the weapon will be used to endanger themselves or other people;
d. who have a criminal record for a violent or dangerous act or who did repeatedly commit crimes or offenses, as long as their record is not erased.
4. It confers the right to purchase a single weapon or a single essential weapon component. The Federal Council allows exceptions, especially in the case of the purchase of several weapons or essential weapon components by the same person and in the case of the replacement of essential components of legally purchased weapons.
5. The purchase permit is valid for six months. The appropriate authority may extend its validity by at most three months.
Article 9: Purchase from private individual to private individual
1. People who buy a weapon or an essential weapon component from a private individual do not need a permit.
2. The weapon or the essential weapon component can be given to the purchaser only if, considering the circumstances, the person making the transfer has considered that none of the reasons for exclusion mentioned in Article 8 Paragraph 2 conflict with the purchase. The person making the transfer must check the identity and age of the recipient on the basis of an official identity card.
Article 10: Weapons that do not require purchase permits
1. People over 18 years of age do not need a permit to purchase:2. In accordance with Letters a and b, a weapon may be transferred only when the person making the transfer can assume, that under the circumstances, the purchase does not conflict with any of the reasons for exclusion mentioned in Article 8 Paragraph 2. The transferrer must check the identity and the age of the recipient on the basis of an official identity card.
a. single shot and multi-barrelled shoulder weapons, and copies of single-shot muzzleloading weapons.
b. repeating rifles, as designated by the Federal Council, which usually are used for off-duty shooting and sport-shooting events, organized by shooting clubs officially recognized according to Military Law (SR510.10), and for hunting within the country.
3 The Federal Council may allow other exceptions.
Article 11: Written contract
1. The transfer of a weapon, in accordance with Articles 9 and 10, must be recorded by a written contract. This contract must be kept by both parties for at least ten years.
2. The contract must contain the followingSection 2: Purchase by foreign nationals without permanent residency permit
a. the last name, first name, birth date, address and signature of the person selling (or giving) the weapon;
b. the last name, first name, birth date, address, and signature of the person purchasing (or receiving) the weapon;
c. the type, manufacturer, model, serial number of the weapon, the date and place of the transaction.
Article 12: Preliminary conditions
1. To purchase a weapon or an essential weapon component, foreign nationals without a permanent residency permit must in every case hold a purchase permit in accordance with Article 8.
2. They must obtain the purchase permit by the appropriate authority of the canton where they intend to purchase the weapon or the essential weapon component.
3. They have to present, to the authority, an official certificate from their residency or country of origin authorizing them to purchase a weapon or an essential weapon component.
4. If there is doubt about the authenticity of the certificate or if it is impossible to obtain, the canton sends the case to the appropriate federal agency. Whereupon the agency verifies or issues the certificate.
Article 13: Duty of information of the cantonal authority
The appropriate cantonal authority reports every three months to the Central Office the following:Article 14: File
a. the identity of people under Article 12: who purchased a weapon or an essential weapon component within the territory of their canton;
b. the weapons and essential weapon elements which have been purchased.
1. The Central Office manages a computerized file of all reports mentioned in Article 13.
2. It can regularly transmit an excerpt of this file to the resident's appropriate cantonal authority or the purchaser's country of origin.
3. The appropriate federal agency decrees the instructions for the management of this file.
Chapter Three: Purchase of Ammunition and Ammunition Components
Article 15: Principle
1. Only persons satisfying the conditions for issuance of a weapon purchase permit can purchase ammunition and ammunition components.
2. Ammunition and ammunition components can be given to the purchaser only if, considering the circumstances, the giving person has the right to consider that none of the reasons for exclusion mentioned in Article 8 paragraph 2 conflict with the purchase.The person making the transfer must check the identity and age of the recipient on the basis of an official identity card.
Article 16: Purchase during shooting events
1. Every person participating in an event organized by a shooting club can freely purchase the ammunition needed to complete the shooting program.
2. People who are not over 18 years of age can freely purchase ammunition on condition of shooting it immediately and under control.
3. Regulations about off-duty shooting are reserved.
Chapter Four: Weapons Trade and Manufacturing
SECTION 1: Weapons trade
Article 17: Weapons trade license
1. Every person who is professionally purchasing, offering or transfering weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition or ammunition components to third parties must be the holder of a weapons trade license.
2. A weapons trade license is delivered to each person who:3. Lawyers must desginate a member of the management [of the business] who is responsible for all actions [consequences] according to this law.
a. meets the prerequisites for the granting of a permit for the purchase of weapons (Article 8, Paragraph 2);
b. is recorded in the commerce register;
c. did successfully pass an exam demonstrating (s)he has the necessary knowledge about the various types of weapons and ammunition and the laws relating to them;
d. has special commercial facilities in which weapons, essential weapon components, weapon accessories, ammunition and ammunition components can be safely stored;
e. offers a guarantee for the running of a business in acordance with the regulations.
4. The appropriate department issues the rules for examination and issues the minimum requirements concerning commercial facilities.
5. The weapons trade license is delivered by the appropriate authority of the canton in which the requester established the headquarters of his (her) company. Branches based outside the canton must get separate weapons trade licenses.
SECTION 2: Weapons manufacturing
Article 18: Principle
Every person who is professionally manufacturing weapons, essential weapon components, weapon accessories, ammunition or ammunition components, or who is modifying components of weapons essential to their operation or to the effect of these weapons must be the holder of a weapons trade license.
Article 19: Non-professional manufacturing and transformation
1. It is forbidden to manufacture weapons, essential weapon components, weapon accessories, ammunition and ammunition components or to transform them into forbidden weapons non-professionally (Article 5, Paragraph 1).
2. Cantons may authorize exceptions.
3. The reloading of ammunition intended for personal use is authorized.
Article 20: Forbidden modifications
1. It is forbidden to convert self-loading shoulder weapons or handguns into automatic firearms, to modify the serial number of weapons and to shorten shoulder weapons.
2 Cantons may authorize exceptions.
SECTION 3: Accounting inventory and reporting duty
Article 21: Accounting inventory
1. The holders [male or female] of permits for trade in weapons, must keep books of the production, purchase, sale, or other marketing of weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition, and ammunition components.
2. The books, in accordance with Paragraph 1, and copies of the weapons trade permits and the permits for exceptions [variances] are to be preserved for ten years, and after that are to be surrendered to the cantonal department of jurisdiction.
Article 22: Reporting duty
The holders of weaons trade licenses and their personnel are required to give to the monitoring authority all information necessary for proper supervision.
Chapter Five: Importation, Exportation and Transit
Article 23: Duty of reporting
1. Weapons, essential components for weapons, ammunition or components for ammunition, must be reported when imported, exported, and in transit, according to Article 6 of the Customs Law (SR631.0).
2. The Federal Council declares exceptions.
Article 24: Professional import and export
1. Each person who is professionally importing or exporting weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition or ammunition component must be the holder of an authorization.
2. The authorization is delivered if the requester is the holder of a weapons trade license (Article 17).
3. The authorization enables the owner to import and export weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition and ammunition components without restriction. It also enables the owner to transport them (through Switzerland).
4. An authorization is also required for (simple) transit, when it is professionally conducted. The Federal Council declares the conditions of authorization. A weapons trade license is not required.
5. The authorization is delivered by the central agency. Its validity must be limited.
Article 25: Non-professional import and export
1. Every person who is non-professionally importing weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition or ammunition components must be the holder of an authorization. It is delivered if the requester has the right to purchase these objects.
2. An authorization is also required for export and (simple) transit, when it is practiced non-professionally. It is delivered if, considering the circumstances, there are good grounds to believe that it will not be abused.
3. The authorization is delivered by the appropriate authority of the canton of residency. People who are not living in Switzerland must get it from the appropriate authority of the canton in which the importation or the exportation will take place. Its validity must be limited.
4. The Federal Council may authorize exceptions, especially for weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition or ammunition components designed for hunting and target shooting.
Chapter Six: Storage, Carrying and Transportation of Weapons, Essential Weapon Components, Ammunition or Ammunition Components
Article 26: Storage
1. Weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition, or ammunition components, must be stored with care and must not be accessible to unauthorized third parties.
2. The loss of a weapon must immediately be announced to the police.
Article 27: Weapon carrying
1. Each person who is carrying a weapon in a public place must be the holder of a weapons carry permit. The holder of such permit must keep it on him (her) and show it upon request to police or customs authorities.
2. A weapon carry permit is delivered to each person who:3. The permit will be issued by the appropriate authority of the canton of residency for 5 years at the most and for a particular type of weapon. It is valid throughout Switzerland and conditions may be attached. Persons residing abroad will receive it from the appropriate authority in the canton of entry.
a. satisfies the conditions for the issue of a weapon purchase license;
b. justifies convincingly that (s)he needs a weapon to protect oneself or to protect third parties or things against a precise danger;
c. did successfully pass an exam proving that (s)he's able to handle a weapon and that (s)he knows the legal clauses regulating the use of weapons. The appropriate department declares the exam rules.
4. The holders of a hunting permit, game wardens, and wildlife control authorities, do not need a weapon carry permit for the weapon they carry within the scope of their activities.
5 The Federal Council specifies the issuance procedures for the carry permit, especially ones applying to foreign personnel of diplomatic and consular missions, of permanent missions to international organizations, and of special missions.
Article 28: Weapons transportation
1. Every person may freely transport unloaded weapons, particularly:2. During transportation, weapons and ammunition must be stored separately.
a. to courses, training or events organized by shooting or hunting clubs, or by federal or military organizations;
b. to or from an arsenal;
c. to or from the holder of a weapons trade license;
d. to or from a specialized event.
Chapter Seven: Control, Administrative Penalties and Fees
Article 29: Control
1. The monitoring authorities are authorized to inspect, without notice during normal working hours, the business premises and the relevant files of owners of weapons trade permits.
2. They confiscate incriminating evidence.
Article 30: Authorization revocation
1. The appropriate authority revokes an authorization when:2. The withdrawal [of the permit] is reported to the authority that granted the permit.
a. the conditions of issue aren't fulfilled;
b. the obligations associated with the authorization aren't respected any more.
Article 31: Confiscation
1. The department of jurisdiction confiscates:2. If weapons, essential components of weapons, accessories for weapons, ammunition and components of ammunition are seized from a person not owning the property, then these are to be returned to the owners of such property provided that there exists no objection according to Article 8, paragraph 2.
a. weapons carried by unauthorized persons;
b. weapons, essential components of weapons, accessories for weapons, ammunition and components of ammunition from persons for whom there exists an objection according to Article 8, paragraph 2.
3. The seized items are definitely forfeited if there is a danger of misuse.
4. The Federal Council regulates the procedure in case the return is not possible.
Article 32: Fees
The Federal council declares the fees applicable for:Chapter Eight: Penal clauses
a. cantonal licenses provided by present law;
b. the storage of confiscated weapons.
Article 33: Offenses
1. Anyone will be imprisoned or fined who intentionally:2. If the culprit (criminal) acts negligently, then the punishment is prison or a fine. In minor cases, punishment may be ignored.
a. has obtained, sold, manufactured, carried, imported exported or transported weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition or ammunition components or has traded them without authorization;
b. has, as the holder of a weapons trade license, failed to report the import, export, or transit of weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition, or ammunition components, or has incorrectly declared these objects;
c. did fraudulently get a weapons trade license with wrong or incomplete information;
d. did violate the obligation to keep records as required by Article 21;
e. failed, as the holder of a weapon trade license, to store weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition or ammunition components with the required security (Art. 17, Par. 2, Let. d).
3. Will be imprisoned for at most five years or fine of at most 100,000 franks, every person who did intentionally, professionally and without authorization:Article 34: Fines
a. obtained, sold, manufactured, imported exported or transported weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition or ammunition components or has traded them;
b. modified essential weapon components.
1. Every person will be arrested or fined, who:2. In minor cases, the judge may exempt the person of each sentence.
a. tries to fraudulently get a weapon purchase license or a weapon carry permit with wrong or incomplete information, or is an accomplice to this action, without being guilty of violating Article 33, Paragraph 1, Letter a;
b. did shoot an automatic weapon without authorization (Art. 5 Par. 2 & 3);
c. did violate his duty to exercise due diligence when supplying weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition or ammunition components to third parties (Art. 10 & 15);
d. did violate the obligation to conclude the written contract required by Article 11, or did fill it with incomplete or false information;
e. did, as an individual omit to keep with the required care, weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition or ammunition components (Art. 26, Par. 1);
f. did as an individual omit to report the import, export, or transit of weapons, essential weapon components, ammunition or ammunition components or did wrongfully declare these objects;
g. did omit to report immediately the loss of a weapon to the police (Art. 26, Par. 2);
h. did omit to keep on him (her) his (her) weapon carry permit (Art. 27, Par. 1).
Article 35: Offenses in the management of business
Article 6 and 7 of penal administrative law are applicable.
Article 36: Legal actions
1. Cantons are take legal actions and are judging offenses of the present law. The confederation supports and coordinates legal actions between cantons.
2. The customs administration investigates and renders a decision on the violations to present law when they are committed during the import, export, and transit of weapons.
3. When there is an infraction, in the sense of the second paragraph, both to customs law or to value added tax law, the sentence for the gravest violation is applied; it can be appropriately enhanced.
Article 37: Statute of limitations
For infractions to present law, legal actions are limited to two years after the infraction. For sentences, the statute of limitations is five years.
Chapter Nine: Final Clauses
Article 38: Execution by cantons
1. The execution of the present law is delegated to the cantons as long as it does not belong to the Confederation.
2. They issue the regulations for cantonal execution and inform the federal authorities.
Article 39: Central agency
1. The Federal Council designates a central agency to support the authorities in charge of the execution of the present law.
2. The central office assumes especially the following assignments, in addition to their tasks, according to Article 12, paragraphs 4, 14, and 24:3 The Federal Council regulates the activity of the central agency.
a. it makes recommendations to the executive authorities;
b. it coordinates their activities;
Article 40: Execution clauses of the Federal Council
1. The Federal Council issues the regulations for the execution of this law.
2. It does especially decide upon the nature and content of authorizations.
3. It regulates the responsibility for data processing, the categories of data which must be recorded, data retention periods, and inter-cantonal cooperation. It designates which authorities can supply data directly into the automated register, which can retrieve such data, or which can announce such data in particular cases.
4. It can delegate execution of tasks to customs authorities.
Article 41: Modification of the current rules
The penal law is modified as follows:
Whoever sells, rents, gives, or makes available a firearm, a prohibited weapon, an essential weapon component, weapon accessories, ammunition or ammunition components or who did trade them while knowing or had to expect that they would be used for an offense or a crime, will be punished by at most five years of prison or a fine, provided no more serious criminal offense exists.
Article 42: Transition clauses
1. Each person who is authorized to carry a weapon or to trade a weapon by cantonal law, must, if (s)he's willing to keep this right, request the specified authorization within the year following the effective date of the new law.
2. The obtained rights are kept until the request has been decided.
3 The authorizations for import, export, and transit, delivered by virtue of the federal law of June 30, 1972 and December 13, 1996 on war equipment, keep their validity.
Article 43: Referendum and beginning of validity
1. The present law is subject to optional referendum.
2 The Federal Council decrees when the law becomes effective.
THE ABOVE TEXT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSLATION. THE TRANSLATOR, Emmanuel Baechler, DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY FOR THE USE OF THE TEXT BELOW. THE READER IS URGED TO REFER TO THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENT IN GERMAN, FRENCH, OR ITALIAN FOR CITATIONAL PURPOSES.