Switzerland votes in referendum on adopting EU regulatory standards for firearms

Switzerland votes in referendum on adopting EU regulatory standards for firearms

Switzerland holds a national referendum today. Voters will decide whether to bring the country’s gun laws into alignment with those

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Photo: Reuters

Switzerland holds a national referendum today. Voters will decide whether to bring the country’s gun laws into alignment with those of the European Union.

While the country is not technically an EU member, it is bound to the bloc by a wide-ranging set of agreements that requires it to comply with major EU legislative changes. Since 2015, the EU has sought to tighten security and firearms regulations in countries that use the visa-free Schengen Area. These regulations have increased background checks, banned ownership of automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and sought to create a centralised gun ownership database. A failure to adopt tighter measures like these could see Switzerland temporarily barred from the Schengen Area.

With approximately 28% of the country owning a firearm of some kind, gun owners have been highly opposed to any measures that would make continued or future gun ownership difficult. To offset opposition, the Swiss government and Brussels have stated that the new changes would not restrict existing ownership. Instead, it would strengthen oversight of future purchases, bringing most of Europe under a single framework and following similar steps taken by New Zealand after the recent Christchurch massacre.

However due to its strong economic reliance on the EU and the Schengen Area, the measures are expected to pass with close to two-third of the vote due to stronger urban support.

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