Video: Farewell to Army? Best-armed Swiss shift opinion to abolish militia

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss television forecasts defeat for a referendum to tighten the Alpine nation’s liberal firearms laws.

National TV station SF predicts 57 percent of voters have rejected the plan in a national ballot Sunday.

It forecasts that 43 percent of voters backed the proposal to ban army rifles from homes and impose new requirements for buying other guns.

Proponents including churches and women‘s groups had favored the plan as a way to reduce domestic violence and Switzerland’s high rate of firearms suicide.

The government says existing laws are sufficient to ensure some 2.3 million mostly military weapons in a country of less than 8 million people aren’t misused.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss citizens went to the polls Sunday to decide whether to tighten the Alpine nation’s liberal firearms laws, a move that would abruptly end the long tradition of men keeping army rifles at home even after completing their military service.

Gun clubs and supporters of the country’s distinctive citizen soldier militia fiercely oppose the plan to army rifles in secure storage and impose new requirements for buying other guns.

Proponents see it as a way to reduce domestic violence and Switzerland’s comparatively high rate of firearms suicide.

The government says existing laws are sufficient to ensure some 2.3 million mostly military weapons in a country of less than 8 million people aren’t misused.

The outcome of the nationwide referendum is expected to hinge on the votes of women and young people. In a survey published last month by the respected polling group gfs.bern, a narrow majority of 47 percent expressed support for the proposal, with 45 percent opposed. About 8 percent of voters were undecided, according to a telephone poll of 1,209 voters.

Voters leaving a polling station in Geneva largely supported the proposal.

“I think it’s a good thing to limit the circulation of weapons,” said Hugo Zbinden, a physicist and member of the Green Party.

But he conceded that even if a majority of Swiss vote in favor of the plan, the measure could fail to win the backing of a majority the country’s 26 cantons, or states.

“Many of the smaller conservative cantons will probably vote against it,” said Zbinden.

Doctors, churches and women’s groups launched the campaign to force ex-soldiers to store their military-issued firearms in secure army depots. They also want the Swiss government to establish a national gun registry and ban the sale of fully automatic weapons and pump action rifles.

Gun enthusiasts say limiting the right to bear arms in a country that cherishes the national myth of William Tell and citizen preparedness against possible invasion by hostile neighbors

Dora Andres, president of the Swiss Sport Shooting Association, told The Associated Press this week that the measure could kill off many of Switzerland’s 3,000 gun clubs, which she said were a pillar of community life in many villages.

Both sides have used graphic images to make their point, with proponents producing posters showing teddy bears oozing blood below the slogan “Protect families.” Opponents‘ posters have featured muscular cartoon criminals threatening the nation’s law-abiding citizens.

About a quarter of Switzerland’s 1,300 suicides each year involved a gun, according to federal statistics. The exact number of military-issued weapons involved is disputed, but those calling for tighter rules claim they account for between 100 and 200 suicides a year, mostly among men.

Advocates for the new law also note that since Switzerland cut the size of its army in 2004, the number of firearms suicides among men aged 30-40 has been cut in half.

It is not known how many military-issued guns are involved in homicides each year, though Switzerland’s gun murder rate is relatively low — just 24 in 2009, or about 0.3 firearms homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. By comparison, the U.S. rate in 2007 was 4.2 per 100,000 inhabitants.

First results were expected shortly after polls closed at noon (1100 GMT).

Source:  The Blaze

Swiss papers said voters had stuck with tradition

Gun vote “was about national identity”

Swiss stick to their guns in weapons vote

Switzerland upheld its reputation for having one of the most liberal yet lethal firearms laws in Europe yesterday after voters overwhelmingly rejected proposals that would have obliged some two million gun owners in the country to keep their weapons in public arsenals rather than at home.

Official results from a national referendum on gun control showed that more than half of Switzerland’s 26 cantons voted against an initiative which aimed to ban army rifles from households in an attempt to reduce domestic shootings and a record number of suicides involving firearms.

Swiss soldiers have been encouraged to keep their rifles at home after leaving the forces under a national defense policy introduced during the Second World War. The practice is seen as a symbol of the trust the state invests in the Alpine country’s largely conscript army.

Yesterday Switzerland’s conservative politicians welcomed the outcome, saying it demonstrated the nation’s reluctance to end a practice that upheld the traditions of its folk hero, William Tell. “This is an important sign of confidence in our soldiers,” said Pius Segmüller, a Christian Democrat MP and a former member of the Swiss Vatican Guard.

A gun ban was strongly opposed by the populist, right-wing Swiss People’s Party, which organised a referendum last year banning minaret building at mosques. Shooting club owners had complained that the law would have destroyed many of the country’s 3,000 gun clubs, which function as key social centres in hundreds of villages.

The result amounted to a serious blow to Switzerland’s nascent gun control lobby. It had banked on a high turnout by women voters to get its initiative approved. But results showed that only the cities of Basel and Geneva and a few French-speaking cantons bucked the national trend.

Social Democrat and Green women MPs said that they were disappointed by the low turnout among women. “Women in Switzerland have only had the vote for the past 40 years, but they aren’t getting involved in politics even when it concerns them,” complained Martine Brunschwig-Graf, a Social Democrat politician.

The gun control lobby, which includes doctors, churches and suicide prevention groups, launched their “weapons initiative” campaign four years ago in an attempt to make it illegal for ex-soldiers and reservists to keep guns at home. Their aim was to ensure that the weapons were kept in arsenals and retrievable only for training or in case of war.

Switzerland has the highest rate of gun suicide in Europe, with around 300 self-inflicted deaths each year involving a firearm. There have also been a number of high-profile killings. Swiss skiing star Corinne Rey-Bellet was shot dead by her estranged husband in 2006. One mass shooting involved a commercial version of the Swiss army’s SG 550 semi-automatic assault rifle.

There is no national firearms register in Switzerland. However unofficial estimates suggest there are between 2 million and 3 million guns kept in Swiss households.

Gun-control campaigners had argued that a ban on guns in the home would lead to a dramatic reduction in gun suicides and in the number of guns being used in domestic disputes. “If you make guns less accessible, then there will be fewer suicides involving guns, it is as simple as that,” said Elsa Kurz, spokeswoman for Switzerland’s Stop Suicide campaign.

The government banned gun owners from keeping live ammunition at home in 2008. In the run up to the vote it argued that in a country with a population of eight million, existing laws.

About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place". At age 62 I find myself fighting inoperable uterine Cancer and thanks to the man upstairs and the prayers from so many people including many of my readers from AskMarion and JustOneMorePet... I'm beating it. After losing our business because of the economy and factors related to the re-election of President Obama in 2012 followed by 16-mos of job hunting, my architect-trained husband is working as a trucker and has only been home approximately 5-days a month since I was diagnosed, which has made everything more difficult and often lonely... plus funds are tight. Our family medical deductible is 12K per year for two of us; thank you ObamaCare. But thanks to donations from so many of you, we are making ends meet as I go through treatment while taking care of my father-in-law who is suffering from late stage Alzheimer's and my mother-in-law who suffers from RA and onset dementia as well as hearing loss, for which there are no caretaker funds, as I continue the fight here online to inform and help restore our amazing country. And finally I need to thank a core group of family, friends, and readers... all at a distance, who check in with me regularly. Plus, I must thank my furkids who have not left my side through this fight. You can see them at JustOneMorePet.
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