Home > politics > Why don’t the Swiss shoot schoolkids?

Why don’t the Swiss shoot schoolkids?

Loathe him or loathe him, Piers Morgan did a good impersonation of a human being on Friday when his guests suggested that more guns may be the answer to the school shooting in Connecticut. The former gossip columnist nearly exploded with incomprehension.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfuJnUJa5JA%5D

 

In the UK, Morgan rose to prominence at Rupert Murdoch’s flagship tabloid newspaper, The Sun, and is by no means a liberal.

To many of us in Europe, American attitudes to gun ownership are hard to understand. To non-American ears, some of the arguments used by the pro-gun lobby are absurd.

One example I’ve heard repeated recently is that some other countries manage to have high rates of gun ownership without America’s problems. Therefore, the problem is not about how many guns there are, but how you choose to regulate them.

I’m not sure why the gun lobby likes this argument, given that they’re completely opposed to gun control, but there it is.

The argument is also completely wrong, of course.

So, which countries are they talking about? The slightly surprising answer is Israel and Switzerland. Really? The Swiss have a lot of guns? I had no idea. The Israelis… I’m hardly surprised, but I also don’t think Americans would want to live in an Israeli-style society.

But let’s take a closer look at why these countries appear on this list.

The threat facing the average Israeli citizen is orders of magnitude higher than that of the average American, yet the only people allowed to own guns in Israel are those who have reached a certain rank in the military or police. Even then, they’re only allowed handguns and have limited access to ammunition. So, almost all the guns are owned by current or former soldiers or police officers.

The Swiss are a very different bunch to the Israelis, but their gun ownership anomaly is very similar. While Switzerland refuses to take sides in any international conflict (for fear of upsetting the tyrants, dictators and millionaires who hide their swag in its bank vaults) and doesn’t have a standing army, it does require all young men to make themselves available for service in the country’s militia. Those found suitable (ie, fit, healthy and sane) are assigned weapons that they must keep at home. So, almost all the guns are owned by part-time soldiers.

Neither country has anything remotely similar to America’s gun laws, so let’s put this particular myth to bed.

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