Last updated: 4/23/2002|GunCite Home|
Swiss Gun Control and Gun Laws

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A Couple of Swiss Myths
 · There's a full-auto weapon in every Swiss household.
Although it's true that all Swiss males are subject to compulsory military service and every solidier is required to keep their service weapon(s) at home, that does not equate to there being a full-auto weapon in every Swiss home. Let's do the math:
Swiss army size: 400,000 (Source: The Swiss Transportation Troops ) (In 1995 the size of the Swiss army was reduced to 400,000 from 625,000.)

Swiss households: 2.8 million (Source: Swiss Statistics)

400,000 full-auto weapons / 2.8 million households = 14 per cent of Swiss households have a full-auto weapon in them. (With the 625,000 figure, it is 22 per cent.) This represents a maximum figure since a household could contain more than one soldier.

 · Sure, Swiss citizens have full-auto weapons, but all ammunition is strictly accounted for and must remain in a sealed container until the reservist reports for duty.
Nancy Hwa, spokeswoman for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (CPHV), helps to perpetuate this misconception:
"In Switzerland you're given a limited number of bullets in a sealed tin. If [when you report for service] the seal is broken, you're thrown in jail. If the NRA wants to adopt that system, it would be fine with us." (Source: Notre Dame Magazine Online: "Public Enemy No. 1")
The above is true regarding army issued ammunition. However, "Swiss military ammo must be registered if bought at a private store, but need not be registered if bought at a range. The nation's 3,000 shooting ranges sell the overwhelming majority of ammunition. Technically, ammunition bought at the range must be used at the range, but the rule is barely known and almost never obeyed." (Source: What America can learn from Switzerland is that the best way to reduce gun misuse is to promote responsible gun ownership) In other words, Swiss reservists are free to purchase, possess, and use military ammunition outside the context of direct military service.

Although Ms. Hwa's quote isn't a lie, it is misleading. It is also extremely unlikely that Ms. Hwa means what she says. Would the CPHV really accept the Swiss system and allow National Guardsmen to keep their M-16 rifles at home?

It is absurd to claim Swiss gun control is responsible for that country's low crime rates, or that the Swiss system proves more guns mean less crime. "Gun ownership in Switzerland defies the simple categories of the American gun debate." (What America can learn from Switzerland is that the best way to reduce gun misuse is to promote responsible gun ownership)

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