In September of 2018, Switzerland agreed to a measure to comply with placing restrictions on gun ownership through the European Union’s Schengen Treaty. Switzerland is attached to the treaty even though they’re not an EU member. Gun regulations have been a part of the Schengen Treaty as part of an effort to reduce crime and terrorist activity, even though its main goal is to allow freedom of movement and trade throughout Europe. Switzerland was given a deadline of May 2019 to comply with the Treaty.
According to Swissinfo.ch, the Campaign for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland and the Swiss gun lobbyists mounted the opposition ahead of Parliament’s vote and said they would launch a referendum. According to a Swiss resident on ar15.com, they only had 100 days to get 50,000 verified signatures. Since that time, they were able to collect 125,000 signatures. The referendum vote will take place in May, the same month that compliance with the Schengen Treaty is required. Lawmakers had warned that failure to comply could lead to a dispute with the EU.
Switzerland has had strong gun owning traditions, including encouraging militia members to keep a government issued rifle and ammunition in the home for a rapid response to national emergencies. It appears that current and former militia members would still carry on that tradition through exemptions, however, restrictions on magazines for semi-automatic weapons are part of the general compliance measures along with heavier restrictions on the acquisition of firearms.
Another firearms tradition of Switzerland is shooting competitions. According to lebendige-traditionen.ch, the “Feldschiessen” or Field Shoot garnered 128,000 participants over a weekend long, national shooting competition, making it the largest in the world. You can check out TFB TV’s Mike B’s article here to see some of what was available during his visit to a Swiss gun show in 2017.
We’ll be sure to stay abreast of this situation as it unfolds. Stay tuned to TFB for further developments as this unfolds in Switzerland.