Thursday 20 June 2019

Swiss voters back plan to tighten gun laws

'Switzerland, unlike many other European nations, allows veterans of its obligatory military service for men to take their service weapons home after tours of duty.' Stock photo
'Switzerland, unlike many other European nations, allows veterans of its obligatory military service for men to take their service weapons home after tours of duty.' Stock photo

Jamey Keaten

Swiss voters have approved a measure to tighten the country's gun laws, bringing it in line with many of its European partners.

Switzerland's public broadcaster said more than 63pc of voters nationwide had agreed to align with EU firearms rules adopted two years ago, after deadly attacks in France, Belgium, Germany and Britain.

The vote yesterday was part of Switzerland's regular referendums giving citizens a direct say in policy-making.

It had stoked passions in a country with long traditions of gun ownership and sport and target shooting.

Switzerland, unlike many other European nations, allows veterans of its obligatory military service for men to take their service weapons home after tours of duty.

Among other things, the Swiss proposal requires regular training on the use of firearms, special waivers to own some semi-automatic weapons and a serial number tracking system for key parts of some guns.

Within three years, gun owners would have to register any weapons not already registered, and keep a registry of their gun collections.

Supporters of the measure, including the Swiss parliament and executive branch, said similar measures adopted by the EU after deadly extremist attacks were needed to ensure strong police co-operation and economic ties with the country's partners in Europe's Schengen visa-free travel zone.

They insisted it would not block law-abiding citizens from obtaining legal guns, but would simply do more to track them.

Switzerland is not an EU member, but is in the Schengen zone.

Opponents insisted the proposal would violate Switzerland's constitution and do little to fight extremism or crime.

They said the weapons used in recent attacks in Europe were not obtained legally.

Irish Independent

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