Why the Switzerland Example Is a Lousy Pro-Gun Argument

Steven writes:

Switzerland does show that isn’t NECESSARILY the case. I do not really want more guns in Britain though and you may be in general right. It would be good if you could show us a graph or a map comparing gun ownership and homicide rates.

The guns in Switzerland are stored at the armory, and I would bet that they are all longarms. I doubt if possession of handguns is as liberal as in the US, and I am almost certain that they do not allow semiautomatics. The Swiss government officially owns all of those guns that the Swiss supposedly own themselves.
The Switzerland argument is insipid. When we say we need gun control in the US, the gun nuts whip out the Switzerland example to show that gun control would not work in the US. The argument is senseless.
Yes, the Swiss example appears to show that you can have a society with high gun ownership that has little crime.
But so what?
If you go the way of liberalization, you are playing with fire. Nations tighten up their gun laws all the time. Every heard of one single country anywhere on Earth loosening up their gun laws to make them along US lines? Of course not. Obviously it’s a bad idea since nobody wants to do it, and every country thinks it is a crazy thing to do.
Yep, high gun ownership is not causing much crime in Switzerland.
But here is why that argument is nonsensical.
High gun ownership is causing a ton of gun crime and gun homicide in the US, unlike Switzerland. The US will probably never be like Switzerland. If we were like the Swiss, there would be no need to ban guns. Considering that an incredible amount of crime in the US is gun crime, and gun homicide rates here are very high, it stands to reason that making guns less available would cut into some of those homicide rates.

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0 thoughts on “Why the Switzerland Example Is a Lousy Pro-Gun Argument”

  1. See, the men all have longarms at home, but they are not allowed to store ammo there! The guns are totally useless! Sure, you see militia guys carrying longarms heading to their militia training exercises, but those longarms are empty and have no ammo in them. Totally useless guns!
    I knew this Switzerland example had to be fake. Gun nuts are like most conservatives – just about every single thing they say is a lie in some way or another once you go and check it out.

      1. > that’s so Swiss though isn’t it? they all have guns but no ammo.
        Makes perfect sense. The Swiss militia is there for defending the country. If Switzerland gets attacked, the guys have to gather at certain places where they get further order and then get transported to the war front or whatever. So you may as well keep the ammo there for distribution or send the officers to these gathering points with the ammo. Sounds more sensible than letting each Swissman keep it at home.
        Also, Swissmen have to keep their rifle locked away so that e. g. their kids don’t have access to it.

      2. It seems like a good idea. Its easier to distribute ammo than guns and the guns are useless without the ammo. And they can take the weapon to a range, get bullets and practice.

  2. Beatrix,
    Are you kidding me ? are you sure you didn’t go to a star trek convention because from what you just said about gun shows is pure science fiction…..
    I am 51 years old and have been going to gun shows since I was 10 years old and I have never have seen any of the type of people you seem to of, again I ask were you in the right place ?
    I hope you have heard of something called the U.S. Constitution
    Witch is why we will never be like the Swiss.
    Proud Firearms owner here
    Very Proud United States Citizen

  3. Robert, if this no ammo thing is really true, you should do a bit of research and write an new post spelling it out. That’s a major contribution to the gun debate. Switzerland is always brought up.

  4. Steven, I can do this, no problem. Just give me a little bit of time to gather the sources and write it up. I am not 100% sure about the ammo thing but it seemed to me that this is what my two uncles told me (they are Swissmen). Anyway, it would not make much sense to keep the ammo in each household.
    …30 Minutes later…
    … Okay so I’ve looked it up now.
    I have found the official website of the Swiss Army. For those of you who don’t speak German but speak French or Italian: on the upper right corner of the website you can click to change into one of these two other official languages of Switzerland. Ain’t that great?
    They have described the current regulations of the Swiss Army on their own website and how it came to this. In fact, in the past years, the laws in Switzerland have become somewhat more strict concerning army weaponry at home than it used to be, not only ammunition. (As far as I remember, this change came because of the amok school shootings in the USA and the Swiss being afraid that the same crap could come up in their country, but don’t nail me on this, I did not follow the discussion while it was in the Swiss media.)
    Well anyway, here’s the link to the text about the law changes in the last couple of years – available in German, French and Italian:
    http://www.vbs.admin.ch/internet/vbs/de/home/themen/defence/waffe/uebersicht.html
    If you need a translation or more deatiled information please tell me. I have been somewhat sloppy in this posting because I need to go to the grocery store before it closes tonight.

  5. According to TIME, dateline Geneva, there is more to it than what the recent comments above say:
    “The biggest change to the firearms legislation was made in 2007, requiring soldiers to store their bullets in an arsenal rather than in the households, but they were allowed to continue to keep their firearms at home. However, people who own private guns can purchase ammunition freely, as long as their weapon is registered.”
    So the implied argument that all Swiss have guns but no ammo is false, according to TIME. As you see here, many many many guns and mucho mucho mucho ammo, but very low gun crimes:
    “Because of these traditions, gun ownership in Switzerland is among the highest in the world, trailing behind only the U.S. and Yemen. Between 2.3 million and 4.5 million are estimated to be in circulation in a country of only 8 million people. But while the gun-suicide rate is fairly high — about 300 cases a year — the number of violent crimes is relatively low: government figures show about 0.5 gun homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010. By comparison, the U.S. rate in the same year was about five firearm killings per 100,000 people, according to a 2011 U.N. report.”
    So yes, the “Switzerland Argument” has merit in support of private gun and ammo ownership.
    “Shooting is also a popular pastime. The Swiss learn to shoot from an early age, master safety techniques and develop a sense of responsibility toward their firearms. It is not unusual to see entire families — kids as young as 12 and their grandparents — participating in target practice or sharpshooting competitions that are held in towns and villages across the country.”
    Safety with firearms is learned from a young age.
    The article references two mass shootings in Switzerland. One was very recent, April, 2013. The overall rate of gun violence though is low, statistically low.

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