An initiative which called for stricter gun laws in Switzerland has been rejected by a majority of the voters on the 13th of February 2011. The turnout reached a comparably high percentage of 48 %.
|Swiss militia soldier in a railway station|
The rejection of the initiative means in effect that Switzerland will keep the dubious distinction of being the fourth most-heavily armed country in the world. Only the United States, Yemen and Finland outrank the small nation according to the Graduate Institute of Geneva.
Members of the Swiss Army are obliged to store their assault rifles at home after they have finished their active duty. At the same time, Swiss gun laws allow the purchase of weapons ranging from high-powered handguns to pump-action shotguns.According to figures from the Swiss government a quarter of the 1300 suicides which are committed in the country each year involve a gun. And in 43% of fatal cases of domestic violence a gun had been the murder weapon.
Political scientist Georg Lutz explains the rejection of the initiative by pointing at the special political climate in Switzerland: “The opponents of the initiative have managed to turn the debate into a discussion about Swiss values. In the end it wasn´t about the weapons anymore.”