European Union Threatening to Tighten Gun Restrictions on Non-Member Switzerland

(Photo: Thomson/Reuters)

(Photo: Thomson/Reuters)

Switzerland isn’t part of the European Union, but that hasn’t stopped Brussels from trying to force the country to comply with a new set of stricter gun control measures.

Brussels is using Switzerland’s membership in the European open-border system to assert control over the tiny country. But the Swiss have a long history of gun-friendly policies, and they’re not giving up without a fight.

“With our direct democracy, Swiss people are accustomed to having the last word,” said Dominik Riner, spokesman for Switzerland’s grassroots gun lobby ProTELL. “We’re opposed to any and all efforts to make current weapons laws more restrictive.”

Switzerland has near-universal conscription, which means nearly every male serves in the military and learns how to use a rifle. The Swiss also have a long tradition of allowing their soldiers to keep their rifles after they leave the service, provided they are modified for semi-automatic fire.

These customs—combined with a “long tradition of self-defense”—have resulted in a per-household gun ownership rate of 48 percent, which is among the highest in Europe. (For comparison, only about 32 percent of households in the United States own at least one firearm.)

The EU’s new restrictions would prohibit former members of the Swiss military from keeping their rifles and severely restrict gun ownership across the country. The proposed rules would, for example, classify semi-automatic rifles in the same category as automatic rifles, making semi-automatics nearly impossible for average citizens to own.

Reuters reported last week that Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga travelled to Brussels earlier this year to negotiate with EU officials. She returned to Switzerland saying she had successfully negotiated against the rifle ban, but Swiss gun owners were dismayed to learn what that victory had cost: EU members demanded concessions including psychological tests and club membership.

Now the grassroots are jumping into action, led by gun lobby ProTELL, to keep foreign gun restrictions from imposing on Swiss sovereignty. Their plan is to secure enough signatures to put the matter up for a vote, which the Swiss system of direct democracy allows them to do.

Christopher Blocher, a leading voice of the Swiss right, told Reuters that Switzerland should end its participation in the system of passport-free travel if the tighter gun restrictions are defeated in a referendum.

Such a move could hurt Switzerland economically, but it would also remove the EU’s final means of leverage.

“When conflicts arise, Switzerland must put its sovereignty first,” said Blocher, a businessman and vice president of the SVP, the country’s biggest party. “In an emergency, Switzerland should be ready to exit (the cross-border agreements).”

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  • David March 9, 2018, 8:13 pm

    Brussels bureaucrats need to have thugs harass them. They deserve it, since they harass millions. Also, take away their armed security.

  • Scott March 9, 2018, 11:06 am

    There is a world effort to restrict guns to all law abiding citizens. Very little is being said about taking guns away from criminals, or how to stop the black market for criminal gun supply. This leaves all citizens of the world subject to massive take over by organized crime, thus another Hitler style rise. I would hope it would not be the “The Third Reich”. All citizens of the world are falling into an immense trap.

    As is seen in America, I believe the criminal element has infiltrated our government and is making elections null and void. It will not matter how people vote. It is, or will be rigged system, and democracy will be eliminated.

  • fritz bousigschouer December 30, 2016, 8:23 pm

    there is a lot of missinfo out there about swiss. i am a swiss and did emigrate after live good 40 years in swiss. the crime rate did go up and the hard crime also. the gvt there is against arms in the people hand and will do all to disarm them as they now that soon swiss has more and more servere problems.

    details are that the swiss soldier do not get ammo for the class 3 stgw or sig 220 pistol home anymore as we back then did. therefore many or most are not well armed.

    it was clear that swiss will go down more and more and the swiss people rights get misstreated badly, thats why i left and in parts of the usa it is absolute way better, since i did live in both worlds i see that every day.

  • Patriot September 10, 2016, 10:04 pm

    I hope the people of Switzerland stand up for themselves and tell the other countries of Europe to butt out and mind their own business if they are capable of doing so. A sovereign country should have the right to do what is best for the country and the citizens based on the approval of citizens and based on history. There have been times when guns were taken from citizens by dictators, such as Hitler, Stalin, etc. in order to establish a “police state” where the “government” has the power to treat the people in a way that involves dictator decisions as to who should live and who should die. Most people would prefer to be armed in able to resist “government” tyrannical control. Being armed also gives citizens the ability to resist terrorism and other types of aggression. Switzerland, do not give in to European countries who have misinformed and radical leaders. Do whatever common sense and the experience of life tells you is best for the country and the citizens. I have no doubt this would be best for Switzerland and for countries such as Israel.

  • Joe McHugh September 10, 2016, 6:11 am

    The anti-gun authorities never stop pushing their agenda of disarming the people. Swiss Justice Minister, Simoetta Sommaruga obviously did not appreciate the wisdom in showing utter defiance to these authoritarians. She thought that by agreeing to “certain concessions” that the European Union would be mollified. They are never satisfied, and they always come back, demanding more and more firearms restrictions.

    The Swiss should have understood this basic truth at the very beginning of the formation of the EU formation. That the EU is attempting to force it’s will on the Swiss people is astonishing. That the Swiss tried to negotiate a sovereign right with Brussels is even more astonishing.

    Should the Swiss seek my council, I would be glad to reinforce the appropriate response that they already subconsciously know, to wit, inform Brussels in a diplomatic manner, to stuff their demands in their collective ears! The authorities in Brussels are nothing more that a group of cowards that will cry like little school girls if the Swiss do what they should, in order to remain a free people in a sea of slaves.

  • Mikial September 9, 2016, 8:40 pm

    I’m sure that will go well.
    Switzerland has always told the rest of Europe to sit on it and rotate. This will be no different.

    Switzerland needs Europe like a fish needs a bicycle.

  • Larry Campbell September 9, 2016, 5:56 pm

    I am not a citizen of Switzerland, but I think that the EU needs to be told to go directly to hell and that the people of Switzerland are a free people who intend to stay that way. This is just another example of why other EU countries need to follow the UK’s lead. Who in their right mind would want to give up their sovereignty. If the people of Germany want to follow Merkel, as she leads that once respected nation into a third-world hell-hole, well, that is their problem, but I cannot understand anyone wanting to follow them into their self-destruction. In my opinion, the German people should drag that bitch into the street and tar and feather her. She should be impeached, and then sentenced to live in a refugee camp without ANY kind of bodyguards or protection whatsoever, which is exactly what she has done to every other citizen of Germany.

  • loupgarous September 9, 2016, 4:59 pm

    Something there is in a bureaucrat’s heart that cannot stand someone else’s freedom. That the Swiss have decided to knuckle under in any way to the tyrants of Brussels and Strasbourg is a scandal, but so many people here in the United States are bought off with money from the rest of us that our own bureaucrats make worse scandals every day.

    I can’t be sure what Trump will do, but Hillary Clinton has a personal stake in destroying our civil right to keep and bear arms. So I’ll vote for Trump and encourage others to, because we don’t have an alternative that will work. I’m a registered Libertarian, but Gary Johnson doesn’t have the votes to win this election, so I’m voting Republican for President this year.

    • Rick September 9, 2016, 8:43 pm

      And our politicians continue to say, we are not trying to take away your guns. Do they really think we’re that stupid, like we trust them……

  • loupgarous September 9, 2016, 4:15 pm

    “Concessions”? This is exactly why Switerland isn’t in the EU, and why Britain left it.
    Time was , those Swiss took their rifles home with them to more efficiently be able to deal with foreigners who demanded concessions of the Helvetic Confederation. The Helvetii after which Switzerland is named in Latin must be making Valhalla ring with cries of outrage and fury.
    These ain’t my grandfather’s Swiss, that’s for sure.

  • Wake_Up_America September 9, 2016, 11:35 am

    Again Gov’t and massive corporations basically getting completely out of utter and complete control. We, the people really need to put an end to all of this garbage within the US and Europe so it seems. I really believe that mass revolution is the only true way to make these necessary changes…what else are we to do – write letters and vote? Sorry but that is a complete joke and does nothing.

  • Ralph S September 9, 2016, 9:41 am

    The EU and UN are just another group of thugs that want to set up a worldwide global government which a handful of oligarchs will rule and make themselves super rich. I guess Germany and the rest of Europe hasn’t learned from the past!
    AIfred Flatow was a German Jew who won first place in gymnastics events during the 1896 Olympics. In 1932, he registered three handguns as required by a decree of the liberal Weimar Republic. The government warned that the police must carefully store the registration records so that no extremist group could ever obtain them. That feat was realized, however, when an extremist group led by Adolph Hitler seized power the following year and used those very same registration records to disarm “enemies of the state.” In 1938, the records were used to disarm Jewish gun owners such as Flatow, whose arrest report stated: “Arms in the hands of Jews are a danger to public safety.” He would later die in Theresienstadt concentration camp.
    Shortly after confiscating firearms from Flatow and numerous other Jews, the Nazis instigated the pogrom known as the “Night of Broken Glass” (Reichskristallnacht) against a defenseless Jewish population.
    All members of the German Jewish community were victims of the Nazi ideological pretext that every Jew was dangerous and must be disarmed. Given the premise that any Jew with a gun threatened the Reich, the universally cited excuse to ransack Jewish houses, businesses and synagogues during Reichskristallnacht was to search for and seize weapons of any kind.
    It can and will happen again if the people allow it.

  • Papa Bear September 9, 2016, 9:07 am

    and Switzerland is the safest country on the continent with the lowest street crime around.

  • Robert September 9, 2016, 8:44 am

    Another example of nations losing to a group of people who are not elected.

    • loupgarous September 9, 2016, 4:19 pm

      This may actually be the first time in decades the Swiss have lost civil rights to foreigners since the Napoleonic wars.

      • loupgarous September 9, 2016, 5:02 pm

        That ought to have read “This may actually be the first time the Swiss have lost civil rights to foreigners since the Napoleonic wars,” and by that I mean the formation of the centralized “Helvetic Republic” which imposed pro-French, top-down rule on the Swiss. Fortunately, 1815 saw the signing of the final act of the Congress of Vienna, which restored the traditional neutrality of the Swiss to a reorganized, de-centralized Helvetic Confederation.

        I wish the best of luck to the Swiss in defying European overreach into territory not even under their rule.

        • Winston September 10, 2016, 12:15 am

          Now, if they throw out the US occupation army ( The EU Council is a US concoction ), which has occupied Europe for 71 years, tall of Europe could get their sovereignty back.

  • Brian D September 9, 2016, 3:02 am

    Pretty sure a recent Pew pole has shown an increase of gun ownership in the US at 44%.
    Sorry I don’t recall if that was individual or per household.

    • Jason Kurna September 9, 2016, 9:04 am

      I read this, too. It was from the NRA. I’d be willing to bet there were a lot of gun owners who answered, “No.” when asked. It is likely that the actual number is greater than 44%.

  • Christian September 5, 2016, 10:57 pm

    As a resident of one of Switzerland’s neighboring countries, Germany, I know first-hand what it means to be a member of the European Union, the biggest dictatorship in Europe since the 3rd Reich was on the height of its power in 1942. The last time I actually was there was in 2001 with my parents but it was a very beautiful vacation and we never felt unsafe while being in this country.

    The European Union is today a complete mess. Everyone can enter its non-existing borders without even having a passport, national laws mean nothing because the laws of the EU count more than the laws of the member countries and instead doing something good for the people and help us fight the many crisis we have these days, all they can do is forbidding certain light-bulbs, coffee machines and dusters because “they use too much electricity”, yet you have never seen these traitors in Brussels taking the stairway instead of the elevator. These people are living in an ivory tower, thinking they can rule a whole continent by their liking. With every EU-vote the number of people that actually vote for the EU parliament becomes less and this for a good reason. We cannot understand anymore, we never really did anyway, why we need the European Union and what it is good for. The Euro destroyed our economies (Deutsche Mark was one of the most stabile economies in the world), the open borders allow every scum to enter, not to mention the ISIS terrorists, and they don’t know a thing about national sovereignty. Democracy in Europe only exists on papers but not in reality, thanks to the European Union. Our economies are weak, thanks to the fact that the EU even allows poor countries like the Balkan countries to get a membership and the few big countries, like Germany and France, have to support these countries because they cannot survive on their own. And this is weakening our economies, yet allows more and more criminals to invade us. Guys, it sucks, it just sucks and the only way out of it is to destroy the European Union, and give national sovereignty back to all of the European countries with their own laws, their own currency and secured borders. But the problem is that outside of Switzerland the people are not allowed to decide this, only our corrupt politicians do. And that is the problem, to me known as parliament democracy.

    I am happy to read that at least Switzerland is doing well. It is the only European country I know about that allows its own people to decide most things. Switzerland is the proof that direct democracy works and that a parliament democracy, like the one in Germany, won’t work because the people have no right to decide on political topics, besides having the allowance to vote every 4 years. But if voting would change something then it would be forbidden anyway.

    I hope that soon more and more countries are willing to leave the EU, taking Brexit as the prime example, and I would be happy if Switzerland secures its freedom, by getting out of the open-border-system as well. It is the only European country that is still in a good situation and that is why many Germans try to leave to Switzerland, if they want to get the Hell out of Germany but still want to stay in Europe. And I am sure that the Switzerland people will not fail in preserving their gun rights and in this way showing the middle finger to the European Union and its dictatorship actions. I was hoping that after Brexit these overpaid freaks in Brussels would wake up but as you can see nothing has changed. They are still mongering for power and now want to get their hands on the freedom of Switzerland, now as they lost Great Britain. But I am very sure that they will have a very hard time with the people of Switzerland, the only people that can be still considered free in Europe and the only people that have the right to own a gun. We Germans are victims, the French are victims and all the other European people are victims because they allow the European Union to craft the laws. It is time to change, it is time for the EU to leave us alone and let the people, the ones that actually live in their countries, decide what is good for them and what is not. The EU in Brussels is nothing more than a central government and I am happy to see that, because of the recent crisis we have to endure, their ivory tower already trembles. They should take ancient Rome as the prime example, that a central government cannot prevail.

    People of Switzerland, keep fighting and save your guns from these power-mongering dictators in Brussels!

  • Tommy Barrios September 5, 2016, 2:57 pm

    DO you SEE any rioting in Switzerland?
    DO you SEE Murdering Muslim Rapists in Switzerland?
    DO you SEE Home Invasions and Armed Robberies in Switzerland?
    DO you SEE Mass Shootings in Switzerland?
    Over 75% of the Population is Armed many with FULL AUTO SIG-550’s (the Swiss battle rifle)!
    BUT they have MANDATORY Conscription, which means that most men and women over 16 have firearms training of one kind or another!
    They don’t have a second Amendment but their gun laws closely mimic ours in many ways, yet they are a lot more intolerant of gun crimes and proactive against criminals using firearms in the commission of said crimes, while we give the same criminals victim status and a slap on the wrist!

    • Mark N. September 6, 2016, 2:31 am

      The Zug massacre took place on September 27, 2001 in the city of Zug (Canton of Zug, Switzerland) in the canton’s parliament. Fourteen people were shot dead by Friedrich Leibacher, who killed himself shortly after the crime.
      In the years before the massacre, Leibacher drew attention to himself by an intense use of lawsuits. These were dismissed, so he assumed he was being persecuted by the state, thus he felt he had to resort to the crime.
      He was armed with a civilian version of a Stgw 90 (Swiss Army assault rifle),[3] a SIG Sauer pistol, a pump-action shotgun, and a revolver, and he wore a home-made police vest. Leibacher was able to enter the parliament building without problem.

      Just sayin.’ No one escapes mass murderers. Then again, Switzerland has had only a couple, both by persons with mental illness, so you are mostly right.

      • loupgarous September 9, 2016, 4:28 pm

        And one guy in Nice, France killed over 70 people with a heavy truck this year. No one will escape mass murderers after every gun is confiscated. Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and countless other tyrants were enabled to become mass murderers partly due to ruling over disarmed populaces.

        The Second Amendment to the Constitution isn’t for arming the National Guard (which can be made a branch of the Federal military as quickly as the President can pick up a telephone and call the National Guard Bureau in the Pentagon). It is expressly for arming the militia (which, in the days the Constitution was drafted, the body of men old enough and young enough to take part in battles) of the United States of America, to protect Americans from future tyrannies (Georgian England’s rule being fresh in everyone’s minds).

        It’s truly sad that the Swiss, who have had to arm their militia more comprehensively for much longer than have we, are doing anything to the European Union’s demands for concessions of their civil rights than throwing them on the ground and urinating on them in the presence of those making the concessions.

        • loupgarous September 9, 2016, 5:27 pm

          “….of those ASKING the concessions.”

          Though, the image of the Swiss envoy to the EU who agreed to a list of restrictions on other Swiss’s civil rights having that list ripped out of her hands, flung on the ground, trod underfoot, then ceremoniously pissed on… is also nice.

        • Winston September 10, 2016, 12:20 am

          Americans have no recourse against their own government’s history of successfully usurping gun rights.

          The EU is US concoction taken from Nazi Germany’s occupation of Europe.

    • Dave September 9, 2016, 7:14 am

      When folks leave the armed-forces, they can take their rifle with them, but they are made non-auto…as the article says.

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