Yesterday, Swiss voters were deciding whether the old laws and regulations about arms will stay or the guns possession will be restricted. In the evening, the results were tight, but they defended their rights. Congratulations!
Lets dig a bit deeper in the story.
Somewhat surprisingly, peaceful and neutral Switzerland is actually quite armed. It is estimated that between two and three million guns are circulating in the country of eight million people.
In Switzerland army duty is mandatory for men while women can volunteer. All the soldiers bring their weapons home with them. And they are even allowed to keep them after the service time is over. No licenses necessary. Now you know how they have reached that high number.
photo by Pal Joakim Olsen
But with too much weapons problems arise. Or that's what anti-weapon groups would like us to believe. Usual suspect is crime, but Swiss crime rate is rather low by European standards. Suicide rate is a completely different story. Home violence and family shootings are not a rare thing as well.
But one can't reduce suicides and home violence by changing the legislation about the guns. One can commit a suicide or kill somebody in many ways, most of them doesn't include any weapons. If you really want to lower the suicide and violence rates, identify the causes and work on their removal, don't try to sell the silly story about too many guns.
In the words of Dora Andres, president of the Swiss Federal Shooting Association:
If a woman doesn't feel safe at home, if she feels afraid, that's a problem of her relationship, not a problem with weapons. I am against this proposal because it does nothing to improve our safety, nor will it lower our crime rate.
I don't want to repeat my argumentation why the drafted army is the backbone of democracy. The same goes for freedom to own personal weapons. No dictator wants his people, not even his regular army, armed. It was proved by Milosevic in Yugoslavia in 1999. It was proved by Mubarak in Egypt a week ago.
Democracy has its price. Part of it is in searching what the real reasons behind suicides and violence are. And working on the better society to eliminate them. Not just accusing the tool for its misuse.