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Majority of Swiss favour tighter gun laws

A Swiss army recruit with the standard issue assault rifle Keystone Archive

A majority of Swiss favour tighter restrictions on the sale of guns, according to a survey published on Thursday. The findings come a week after a lone gunman opened fire on delegates inside the parliament building in canton Zug, killing 14 people.

This content was published on October 4, 2001 - 16:32

According to the survey, commissioned by the Swiss weekly news magazine, "Facts", 77 per cent of the 600 Swiss polled said they wanted to see a tightening of the country's laws concerning the sale of weapons.

The survey also reveals that an increasing number of Swiss oppose the possession of personal weapons at home.

The gunman in Zug used an assault rifle, a weapon issued by the Swiss army to some 500,000 Swiss men around the country.

The Swiss population is heavily armed because of the country's militia system, which requires men over 20 to be ready for a call to service.

Soldiers also have the right to keep their rifles after they have been de-mobilised.

Generation gap

Of those aged between 15 and 34 who responded to the poll, only 40 per cent said they were happy to store assault rifles issued by the Swiss army at home.

However, the survey did reveal a difference of opinion between younger and older generations. 52 per cent of those aged over 55 said they had no objection to the storage of weapons at home.

Last weekend, two days after the massacre in Zug, the Swiss defence minister, Samuel Schmid, insisted that the Swiss army's tradition of allowing recruits to keep their weapons at home did not represent a menace for society.

Supporters of the right of every soldier to keep his rifle at home argue that despite the country's liberal gun laws, violent crime is relatively rare in Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

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