The Swiss government has been more supportive of citizens owning guns than just about any other nation.
But they voted in a referendum over the weekend for more restrictions, and an analyst explains it was under extreme pressure from the European Union.
EU officials told “gun-friendly nations – the Czech Republic and Switzerland” – to make changes in their laws or lose the benefits of easy cross-border access.
“In essence, the EU provided a solution in search of a problem,” wrote Bill Wirtz of Young Voices Advocates at the Foundation for Economic Education. “And somehow, they got people to agree with it.”
He said “gun rights activists lobbied against tighter rules and pushed the vote in an attempt to oppose new agreements between Switzerland and the European Union.”
But the EU was dictating the terms, putting more restrictions on gun owners and centralizing surveillance.
He explained the background: “After the 2015 terrorist attacks in France, the European Commission drafted a reform of a law enacted in 1991. A final, watered-down version now includes bans on automatic firearms that have been converted into semi-automatics, magazines with a capacity of more than 21 rounds in the case of short firearms and more than 11 rounds for rifles, personal defense weapons (PDWs), and even stage and re-enactment guns in some cases.”
There’s also a provision for surveillance and the exchange of information between member states.
He explained Switzerland isn’t a member of the EU, but it still needs agreements to maintain good relations.
The new directive is currently being challenged by the Czech Republic at the European Court of Justice, he explained.
“Prague argues that the commission’s directive is meddling with national crime prevention policies (an area under the control of the member states) and that the prescribed bans violate the principle of proportionality. UK Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston said in her advice to the court last month that the directive was mainly targeting the movement of firearms within Europe and that the measures are fully proportional.”
The Swiss gun culture is distinct because the government requires every able-bodied male go through military training and take home a weapon.
Wirtz explained: “Switzerland has an estimated 2.3 million guns in a population of 8.5 million. This figure likely understates the actual total since Swiss gun owners have only been required to register their firearms since 2008.”
But he said the EU’s actions are enforcing “disarmament … through bureaucracy.”
He explained the Swiss most likely approved the new rules because businesses and students worried that Switzerland might abandon the open-border treaty as a result of a “no” vote.