With the exception of the United States, Switzerland is the Western nation with the strongest tradition of gun rights. The Confoederatio Helvetica has survived for all these centuries by requiring universal military service, and by affirming the right of Swiss citizens to keep and bear arms.
The European Union wants to change all that. Gun ownership as allowed in Switzerland runs contrary to EU laws on the prevention of terrorism. Although Switzerland is not a member state of the EU, it is a signatory of treaties that require it to “harmonize” its laws with those of the EU in certain categories.
One of those categories is firearms. Below are two articles about Brussels’ assault on Swiss gun ownership, as translated by Ava Lon. First, from the Swiss news organ 24 heures:
The European Union wants to disarm Switzerland
Brussels will toughen its laws on firearms, including introducing psychological and medical tests for holders.
The EU wants to tighten its laws on firearms. The first sketches of Directive 91/477 forced Simonetta Sommaruga [Swiss Federal Councilor, a socialist] to visit Brussels in mid-June, to plead that Swiss citizens be allowed to keep their service weapons at home.[Switzerland is NOT part of the EU]
If this derogation is accepted for now, it will be accompanied by many other obligations, such as psychological and medical tests, said the Basler Zeitung in its issue of August 24.
It is supposed to demonstrate that gun owners are not a danger to society and must be supervised.[do you see the contradiction? they are safe, but must be closely watched. — translator] Therefore 133,000 people will be compelled to do that: members of shooting clubs, but also hunters, collectors or those who possess weapons without being part of a society.
The anti-terrorist law in the European Union already requires gun owners to pass such tests every five years.
Fear of referendum
Switzerland, a member of the Schengen area, has committed to automatically apply European law. Berne will therefore have to adapt its legislation, which could be the subject of a referendum. If not, the vote could result in the application of the Schengen-Dublin agreement.
It is to avoid this disaster scenario that Simonetta Sommaruga’s services were activated in June in Brussels for the service weapons to be excluded from the directive. The other obligations will also make the Swiss cringe…
The Fass 57 threatened [Swiss army riffle]
The terrorist attacks that shook Europe in recent years explain this tougher legislation, but the European Union has had to recognize that none of them had been committed by legally purchased and possessed weapons. [Editor’s note: The weapons did not commit the crimes. Those who used the weapons did.]
Switzerland could be obligated to destroy hundreds of thousands of weapons and neutralize them. The EU has in its sights rifles with magazines of over 20 shots with guns and stores of more than ten rounds. The assault rifle 57 is particularly threatened with its original magazine of 24 cartridges.
The directive is currently being processed by Brussels. But it is clear that if it were to pass as-is, anyone not in active service or who is not a member of a shooting club will no longer have the right to own a firearm.
Also from 24 heures:
The chairmanship of Pro Tell is gutted
Swiss President Willy Pfund denounced a coup within the association Pro Tell, the gun lobby. He resigned with immediate effect.
Pro Tell defines itself as “the company for a liberal law on weapons.” Its voice weighs in about each proposed policy on weapons. But there is now fire at the top, writes the Tages-Anzeiger in its edition of 12 September.
Its chairman Willy Pfund, 77, resigned Wednesday with immediate effect “for personal reasons”, said Pro Tell on Friday. He’ll be temporarily replaced by Vice-President Werner Hohler, until the General Assembly in early 2017 is able to appoint a new president.
An autocratic management style
The president’s departure did not develop in serenity, as shown in his email dated August 29 sent to the presidency. Willy Pfund denounced a decision that day that suspended him from office with immediate effect, due to a management style deemed autocratic and a lack of communication.
The president described the process as a “putsch contrary to the statutes, and disrespectful” to the person and work for Pro Tell. “I am upset. Trust is broken in every respect.”
Schengen in the viewfinder
Pro Tell does not want to comment on the resignation of its chairman. “We agreed to remain silent,” said interim President Werner Hohler. This departure will change nothing with the organization. “We will continue in the future to fight for a liberal law concerning arms.”
Pro Tell is focusing on the next big battle ahead, one that is particularly close to its heart: the tightening of legislation coming to Switzerland in the wake of what is being prepared in Brussels.
The strong lobby of 8,500 members and many federations may fight the Schengen Agreement if the Commission were to require that Bern have all gun owners in Switzerland submit to regular inspections. Pro Tell doesn’t want that.