published Monday, February 21st, 2011

Peaceful Swiss keep their guns

When you think of the nation of Switzerland, you may think of its Alpine peaks, its high-quality watches or its renowned chocolate. You may also think of the peaceful nature of its people. Not only have the Swiss long stayed out of the wars that raged around them, but the rate of violent crime is low.

One other thing for which Switzerland is famous is its high rate of private gun ownership. By one estimate, there are 46 guns for every 100 people in Switzerland, according to Reuters news service.

But the rate of murder involving guns is low in Switzerland. In 2009, for instance, only one murder per 300,000 people was committed with a gun.

That's a pretty strong indication that gun rights are not the "cause" of violent crime. In fact, private gun ownership heads off many violent crimes, because criminals cannot be sure which of their potential victims might be armed.

It's not surprising, therefore, that the peaceful Swiss recently voted strongly against tight gun-control proposals. That makes sense. Law-abiding Swiss will retain their broad right to possess firearms, rather than leave guns mainly in the hands of criminals who do not mind breaking gun-control laws.

Not everyone desires to have a gun. Nor is everyone competent or responsible enough to own a firearm. But whether in Switzerland or the United States, responsible, legal gun ownership is not the cause of violent crime.

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nucanuck said...

You conveniently failed to mention that Swiss are issued a rifle (the norm) when the enter military service and retain that weapon as part of the inactive National Guard after active duty.

Hand guns are not common and the Swiss are appalled that Americans treat their country as a three thousand mile wide shooting gallery.

February 21, 2011 at 12:48 a.m.
holdout said...

In Switzerland the people have a much different attitude toward law and order and the government than in the US. They would in no way tolerate the ongoing street brawls that we take for granted. When I was there they didn't tolerate littering and jaywalking. There are traffic cameras on every intersection and they pay the tickets without complaint. They not only have a lot of guns but they practice and compete regularly with them. They have armed themselves and built defenses to the point that no one would attack them and otherwise never become involved in foreign adventures that bring so much ill will to us and cost so many lives and so much money. The guns do have a lot to do with how peaceful they are but they are not the only reason.

February 21, 2011 at 9:15 a.m.
CarolinaGal said...

They are a neutral country because they can defeat any country that wanted to test that neutrality. Every hotel I stayed in in the ski resorts had a bomb shelter basement... used for ski storage in peacetime. I was routinely passed by military ski units on the slopes ... training, I guess. The have caves in the mountains to hide their jets and these jest can taxi out and take off. It is very mountainous. Quite a safe country for banking.

We are not a 3,000 mile shooting range. If they have doubts about us,it is thanks to the liberal media that paints a false image. Guns reduce crimes in this country. Urban areas are not safe....but perhaps would be safer if they didn't have such restrictive gun laws.

February 21, 2011 at 7:03 p.m.
AWeibel said...

There are two important points that the editor fails to mention:

  • The outcome of the vote on February 13 here in Switzerland was rather close with 45% of the people in favor of a much stricter gun law.
  • Secondly, Switzerland may have a lower crime rate related to guns than the United Stats. But the number of deaths related to guns is still far higher than in any other European country (4 times higher than in Germany, 30 times (!) higher than in the UK).

Best Regards, Andy from Bern, Switzerland

February 25, 2011 at 9:17 p.m.
EdKelin said...

While proclaiming the high percentage of gun ownership, your Editorial neglected to mention the almost mandatory military service for males, as well as the near lifetime requirement to belong to the military reserves. This is the reason Swiss citizens keep guns. It is not to stop criminals, as you Editorial write assumes.

I guess the next Editorial complimenting Swiss life will be to suggest that the US makes Spanish an official language, since in Switzerland German, French and Italian are all official languages...

February 27, 2011 at 5:04 a.m.
henrirt said...

When I lived and worked in Zurich Switzerland from 1974-1979, not only did I see very young boys get training in shooting, but we had an annual "Bring your gun to work day" where we had a target shooting contest for employees with an extra week of vacation for the winner. Now that's freedom going hand in hand with responsibility!

March 9, 2011 at 3:21 p.m.
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