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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/16/13

Debunking the Swiss gun myth.

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Message Peter Lawlor
It seems one of the far right's tactics is to cherry pick information and shape it to fit their agenda. They often leap to illogical assumptions and add completely baseless and dishonest elements. 
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Recently a right-wing sock-puppet claiming to be a progressive posted a favorite straw-man argument on a progressive blog. He proudly announced that Switzerland has lots of assault rifles, but still enjoys low murder rates. He extolled the virtues of more guns being the best answer to gun violence and parroted the NRA call for less gun regulation. Here are the actual facts.

First, Switzerland is a tiny country (something over 7 million) surrounded by what were considered, after the second world war,  potentially threatening larger countries. This is why they choose to have a "well regulated militia" to respond to a possible invasion instead of a much more expensive standing army.  It's too bad right-wing gun advocates can't grasp the whole "well regulated" concept in our 2nd amendment. An important point regarding Swiss gun policies is that they have very strict regulation and control over the sale and ownership of weapons. They require ongoing gun training. All weapons and munitions are individually registered. They are not even allowed to have bullets for their military-issued assault weapons. Those are kept in armories and available at regulated shooting ranges.  Unstable and paranoid, criminal types are denied gun ownership in Switzerland.  Unlawful possession of guns is harshly punished.  Gun trade among individuals requires a valid weapon acquisition permit. Weapons acquired from an individual in the last ten years (which did not require a weapon-acquisition permit) have to be registered. As a central weapons register was politically unfeasible, the authorities hope to get an overview of the market through this registration requirement.  Every gun must be marked with a registered serial number.

So even as US conservatives who oppose any government attempts to regulate their guns angrily fight against government interference of any kind, they hypocritically push Switzerland with its many regulations as an example that more guns are the answer! Such an amazing disconnect with the facts however is no surprise from the right-wing propagandists. 

A couple more facts the 'more guns make us safe' crowd forget to mention. In Switzerland 29% of households own guns. The U.S. has guns in 43% of households. So we have more guns, fewer regulations, and big surprise... lots MORE MURDERS! Facts are stubborn things.

Even with all the regulations, however, Switzerland still has problems. Their economy is slipping and they have seen an increase in gun murders in recent years. While they only average about 300 gun deaths per year, they occasionally have mass gun murders also.  In April 1986, Gunther Tschanun, head of Zurich's building control department, shot dead four of his colleagues after tensions developed at work. More recently, an angry man named Leibacher who had a paranoid fear of government and had made wild accusations about "mafia" officials, entered parliament and shot and killed 14 people and wounded 14 more.  On the same morning as Leibacher terrorized the Zug canton council, a 49-year-old Swiss man in nearby Lucerne shot his 23-year-old stepson with a combat rifle and then turned the weapon on himself.

Switzerland also doesn't suffer from a large segment of their society being spoon-fed paranoia and fear of their government by huge media outlets like Fox, resulting in large numbers of angry fearful people being whipped into violent behavior. In short a majority of the Swiss populace have a more rational world view than many right-wingers here.

Now the most important point. Switzerland has one of the best economies in the world and highest per-capita incomes in the world. Here in the US we have poverty and huge income inequality. Plutocrats control much of our government and as the rich get richer, most of America is left behind, creating high unemployment. Our working and poor are forced to make cuts to shoulder the burden of the recovery, while wealthy bankers and wall-street insiders who caused our financial meltdown go untouched.  Poverty is always the breeding ground of discontent and violence. The sad fact is corrupt bankers and growing unemployment are changing the rosy picture in Switzerland also and calls for gun control are increasing. So much for the Swiss gun myth.
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Love learning. Hate stupidity and intolerance. First let me say that I am not a professional writer, although I have written a couple of screenplays and even sold one some years ago. I am however a professional actor and a member of the screen (more...)
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