NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Swiss Are Safe, Even Though Firearms Abound

June 10, 1999

Visitors to Switzerland are astonished to see guns and rifles being carried openly in public -- particularly when there is a "shooting festival" occurring nearby. In fact, Switzerland has more firepower per person than any other country in the world -- yet it is one of the safest places on Earth.

  • In 1997, there were 87 intentional homicides and 102 attempted homicides in the entire country -- with firearms involved in 91 of the 189 total cases.
  • Switzerland had a homicide rate of 1.2 per 100,000 population and a robbery rate of 36 per 100,000.
  • Almost half of those crimes were committed by non-resident foreigners -- whom locals call "criminal tourists."
  • By comparison, Britain -- which has strict gun control laws -- had a homicide rate in 1994 of 1.4 per 100,000 and a robbery rate of 116 per 100,000.

Although Switzerland has local shooting contests for boys and girls ages 12 to 16, there have been no school massacres in the country.

All males between the ages of 20 and 42 are required to keep rifles and pistols at home for purposes of national defense. Military historians do not doubt that this was a big reason Hitler chose to avoid Switzerland in favor of conquering countries which had strict gun control laws -- as well as registration lists which facilitated confiscation of firearms.

Source: Stephen P. Halbrook (attorney and author), "Where Kids and Guns Do Mix," Wall Street Journal, June 10, 1999.


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