- Swiss youth compete in marksmanship, promoting responsible gun use
- Most Swiss men receive mandatory military service and gun training
- Strict licensing procedures and laws prevent unfit individuals from gun ownership
In Switzerland, where 2 million privately-owned guns mingle with a population of 8.3 million, a mass shooting hasn't occurred since 2001. The NRA often points to this country to argue against stricter gun control measures. But the Swiss have specific rules and regulations that set them apart. Let's dive into Switzerland's unique gun culture and explore why their gun violence rates are so low compared to the US.
Swiss youth are known for their prowess in marksmanship, with the annual Knabenschiessen festival dating back to the 1600s. It's a competition that values accuracy above all else, and both boys and girls aged 13 to 17 take part. The Swiss see gun ownership as a patriotic duty, with most Swiss men required to learn how to use a gun during their mandatory military service.
The Swiss government issues firearms to men deemed "fit for service" between the ages of 18 and 34, and after their service, they can buy and keep their service weapons with a permit. Switzerland maintains a stance of "armed neutrality," which has kept them out of international armed conflicts since 1815. The country's borders are also well-protected, with thousands of demolition points designed to explode on command.
Swiss gun ownership is largely for military or police duty, and the country has experienced a decline in civilian gun ownership over the past decade. Strict licensing procedures are followed, and local authorities vet prospective gun buyers thoroughly. Swiss laws prevent those with violent tendencies, criminal convictions, or substance addictions from owning a gun.
Switzerland ranks high in happiness and well-being, but it's not perfect when it comes to guns. It still has one of the highest rates of gun violence in Europe, with suicides accounting for the majority of gun deaths. However, stronger gun laws over the years have led to a decline in gun deaths, including suicides. Concealed carry permits are difficult to obtain, and most people aren't allowed to carry guns around in public spaces.
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