The article below describes the continuing effort by the European Union to pressure Switzerland to impose strict gun control, and the apparent capitulation of the Swiss Federal Council to that pressure.
JLH, who translated the piece, includes this prefatory note:
Does Switzerland need a chapter of the NRA? As a surrounded non-member of the otherwise nearly ubiquitous EU, it is constantly under pressure to accommodate the EU’s rules and attitudes. It is reminiscent of an expression I read somewhere: “Being nibbled to death by ducks.”
Note the trilingual heading of “Hands off Swiss gun law! No to the EU fund-control law!’
The translated article from the Swiss gun rights site Finger weg vom Schweizer Waffenrecht:
Quick and Dirty: So Much Humbug From the New EU Gun Control Law
March 7, 2018
According to Duden dictionary, “humbug” means either something that pretends to be significant but is a scam, or a fatuous and silly statement or action. The EU diktat decrees that the well established and functioning Swiss gun control law is to be greatly intensified. What does that change, and why are gun owners so worked up about it? We have been asked that frequently recently. And we would like to offer a few answers.
(A paragraph recommending the reading of the texts of the EU and Swiss laws and other comments)
Legitimacy of EU Guideline as Security Measure Doubtful
1. Basis for the law change is the revision of the guideline known as “Firearms Directive,” on the control of buying and ownership of weapons (91/477/EEC) — a regulation created in 1991 for the control of the internal market, especially as applicable to border-crossing shipment of weapons. This guideline was revised after the 2015 Paris attacks for the prevention of international terrorism.
We opponents of increasing the severity of the law point out that the guideline 91/477/EEC is in no way an instrument of security policy, and the present goal of exerting such massive influence on private gun ownership is absolutely not legitimate. The Czech Republic is appealing the introduction of guideline 91/477/EEC at the European court, on these and similar grounds.
Tightening in 5-Year Rhythm to Be Expected
2. Article 17 of the EU Gun Control Guideline allows the EU, beginning on September 14, 2020 (!) and every five years thereafter to review the suitability of individual provisions and subsequently, case-by-case, make new suggestions for legislation, especially in the realm of firearms.
We opponents of increasing the severity of the law note that the EU with Article 17 is allowing itself to dominate Swiss gun control law and thus removing the influence of direct democracy. Since the Swiss gun law is based on the ancient tradition of the “self-defensive Swiss” and our system of a militia army, this overreach carries great potential for conflict. Should this process become the norm in other areas of life, we are threatened with the loss of the direct influence of parliament and the people on Swiss lawmaking.
Magazine Capacity Alone Decides Lawful and Unlawful
3. So Switzerland adopts from EU’s guideline the banning of certain firearms on their magazine capacity alone, that is, moving them from the category of requiring a permit to forbidden. So the same gun can be interpreted legally in two different ways — allowed or forbidden. The only difference is an object presently not legally defined: the magazine.
We opponents of increasing the severity of the law submit that an object that can be bought easily internationally and is already present in Switzerland by the hundreds of thousands cannot be brought forth to ban a gun. Specifically, a pistol is forbidden if it has a 21-cartridge magazine. With a 20-cartridge magazine, it is eligible for a permit. Both gun and magazine can be taken from the owner if an over-large magazine should be found in the possession of a gun owner with no special permit. The same is true for all long guns. The limit there is 10 bullets. The newer Swiss military service rifles have magazines that hold 20 or 24.
Lawful: Handguns or Small Arms
4. To determine whether a gun with a certain magazine capacity is legally allowed or forbidden, it must be determined whether it is considered a handgun or small arms. Depending on that, differing magazine capacities may be allowed or not allowed. As suggested by the terms handgun and small arms, the distinction is extremely difficult in practice, so it was not made in the applicable legislation. The relevant difference now — independent of the size of a gun — is simply whether it is manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic.
We opponents of increasing the severity of the law point out that the definitions — small arms/handgun — cannot serve as the basis for a law. Furthermore, there are many small arms that can accept handgun magazines. From this fact arise juridical questions that simply cannot be answered. So someone can obtain the permit to acquire a pistol with a magazine that holds 18 cartridges and, later, also with permission, buy a rifle with a 10-shot magazine, which, however, can also accommodate the pistol’s magazine. This is a legal offense according to the gun control law, and would lead to confiscation. In other words, a gun legally acquired and legally owned can nonetheless be confiscated — blatantly arbitrary and beyond any constitutional legitimacy.
From Permitted to Permitted by Exception
5. In order that private individuals may continue to acquire handguns or small arms with magazines that have a capacity of more than respectively 10 or 20 cartridges, purchasers must have a so-called cantonal special exemption permit which would only be awarded if the purchaser is a collector or a regular member of a shooting club. The proof of this to be submitted after 5 and 10 years.
We opponents of increasing the severity of the law note that this would introduce a requirement of certification which has already been rejected several times by the people and by parliament. The Federal Council, furthermore, before the plebiscite on Schengen, promised that such a requirement of certification would not re-appear. At present, standard grounds for buying/owning a gun are: hunting, sport, gun collecting. An additional requirement to belong to a gun club is not a good solution for gun owners or gun clubs. At present, the status of gun-owner-with-special-exception-permit is like an honorific and is reserved for declared collectors — who, on their part, must endure annual, unannounced police scrutiny. The “permit-by-exception for everyone” undermines a functioning legal system. And the shooting requirement will necessitate much unnecessary transportation of guns and munitions by street and by rail. A bureaucratic monster will be created, which leads to the assumption that the Federation has massively underestimated its costs and economic consequences. Once more, trade is strait-jacketed by a federal decision.
Additional Registration is Happening Against and Despite the Will of the People and the Parliament
6. Anyone who now owns but has not registered legal guns, particularly the Swiss Assault Rife 1957 , must register them and accordingly apply for a permit by exception to continue to own them legally.
With this stipulation, the Federal Council is introducing an additional registration requirement which was rejected by the people in 2011 and 2013 and by the parliament in 2015. Clearly, the will of the people aad parliament is being ignored.
|1.||European Economic Community|
|2.||The Swiss system of universal membership in the militia includes each member’s taking ownership of the issued assault rifle, so the law change would reach into practically every home in the country.