Imagine a country in the western hemisphere where a referendum that calls for a national gun registry is defeated. Imagine a country where the proposal to store guns owned by soldiers in public arsenals is rejected. Imagine a country where children as young as 12 are routinely taught how to shoot.
Not America but Switzerland. As The Atlantic recently pointed out, Switzerland loves guns too but doesn’t have the hideous effects of deadly gun violence in which Swiss kills Swiss.
Unlike the US, it doesn’t have the constitutional right to bear arms, but it likes them plenty. Switzerland has “the third highest rate of private gun ownership in the world, behind the United States and Yemen”.
So how does it stay safe despite all those arms in private hands? Switzerland hasn’t had a mass shooting in 17 years.
What does Switzerland do differently from the United States?
In answer, The Atlantic quotes The Washington Post.
“Swiss authorities have a list of about 2,000 individuals they suspect of being willing to commit shootings. All of them are frequently approached by authorities, along with psychologists, and are forced to hand over their weapons immediately or are barred from purchasing new ones.”
Actually though, it seems that there are three clear reasons America has frequent gun violence and Switzerland doesn’t:
- a lower rate of gun ownership (roughly one gun per four Swiss; more than one per person in the US.)
- Strict regulations not to do with gun purchase but ownership in Switzerland. Fully automatic weapons are not legal. Background checks are mandated. Heavy machine guns and military weapons such as grenade launchers are banned. Public-carrying permits are rarely issued rarely. Guns in transit must be unloaded. Hunting weapons must be registered with the canton.
It adds up to fewer guns.