Question Regina Wurm Law

Why Switzerland has lower gun crime compared to the USA

Switzerland has a high rate of gun ownership, so does the USA but hardly any gun crime in Switzerland. Why do you think this is?

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Answer Internal Staff

Switzerland trails only behind USA, Serbia and Yemen when it comes to gun ownership, yet there are hardly any gun crimes in Switzerland. Switzerland’s gun restrictions are more stringent than those of the U.S. For one, automatic weapons are outright banned for civilians. In fact, most incidences of mass gun violence in the USA involved assault rifles (The Washington Post 2016). In the USA, the license to carry is a requirement that only exists in a minority of US states. Whereas, in Switzerland, the licensing process requires the applicant to demonstrate the need to protect himself or others and pass an exam.

In Switzerland, existing law requires private sellers to verify the identity and age of the buyer by checking an official identification document. Whilst this is also the case in the US, there are generally loopholes that most people can buy a gun without a problem. For example, there is a private sales loop hole which means that if someone purchases a gun from a private seller, such as a friend, no gun background check is required.

Switzerland has a lot of specific laws controlling ammunition. Without ammunition, firearms are no more dangerous than any blunt object, causing some scholars to refer to ammunition as the “actual agent of harm” in gun violence (Law Center 2016). In the USA although gun/firearm sales are subject to various federal restrictions, ammunition sales are not. In fact, the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado illustrates the problem well. While the shooter purchased his firearms at local gun stores, he ordered his ammunition cache from online retailers over the course of several months prior to the shooting (Law Center 2016).

On the whole, maintaining restrictions that make firearms and ammunition less accessible to potentially dangerous people improves public safety.

References


Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence (2016) Ammunition Regulation. Available via: http://smartgunlaws.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/classes-of-weapons/ammunition-regulation/#footnote_4_35005

The Washington Post (2016) Assault rifles are becoming mass shooters’ weapon of choice. Available via: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/12/the-gun-used-in-the-orlando-shooting-is-becoming-mass-shooters-weapon-of-choice/