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February 19, 2013
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The president’s anti-gun rhetoric wouldn’t play in the Alps

Whenever I read that America’s per capita murder rate is gun-driven and trending off the charts, I remind myself that our national mortality figures include gang shootings in the ’hood.

Of Chicago’s astonishing 513 murders in 2012 (to cite one big-city’s stats), over 80 percent were gun related. Take away America’s ghetto killings with their illegal weaponry (a societal problem which President Obama’s list of 23 anti-gun nostrums will not remotely touch) and the U.S. gun data can be seen to trend almost Swiss-like.

It is worth remembering that Switzerland, like the United States, is armed to the teeth. As did our Founding Fathers, the Swiss have long understood that a well-armed populace stands between them and, say, a bunch of goose-stepping nut jobs downstream.

Up in the Alps, gun ownership and an NRA-level respect for weapons is mandatory for all military-aged males of sound mind between the ages of 20 and 42. It gets better: while serving in the militia, Swiss males keep fully automatic assault rifles in the closet at home, right behind the skis and next to the 8-inch long cough drop horn.

Here’s another interesting factoid: the cost of ammunition in Switzerland is underwritten by the government. (Somebody slap Joe Biden. I believe he just fainted.)

Near universal ownership of arms certainly held the Alpiners in good stead in World War II, when the Wehrmacht was running pell-mell across the European landscape, ripping up French vines, making the Norwegians roll over and sit up, bombing the snot out of London, and moving Poland’s boundaries around on a whim.

It didn’t matter how much gold or chocolate was there for the taking next door. The Fuhrer’s war planners saw no reason to get bogged down in a fight where there was a green-hatted yodeler sporting a carbine behind every fence. Gun-crazy Switzerland was the one country in central Europe spared the Nazi onslaught.

Switzerland still sleeps easier knowing it has a fully armed citizenry. Two years ago, it voted down tightened gun laws wished upon it by its less-citizen-trusting European Union partners.

So what is the gun crime rate in Switzerland? According to the BBC, “Guns are deeply rooted within the Swiss culture — but the gun crime rate is so low that statistics are not even kept.” (BBC News, Sept. 27, 2001.)

Of course, as it happens, Swiss cities put up with zero posturing, out-of-control, inner-city street thugs. And the Swiss also takes a dim view of the criminally insane wandering about on their own, at large and unsupervised (The ACLU holds no sway across the pond, it turns out).

Maybe we could learn something about reining in gun violence from this tiny picture-postcard country with an automatic assault rifle in every cupboard.

Bill Boyl

Nevada City


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The Union Updated Jun 6, 2013 11:41PM Published Feb 19, 2013 09:02PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.