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Arms boom Alarm over rising gun sales

Swiss authorities are worried about the surge in weapons sales in Switzerland over the past year.

The country already has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world because of its militia army, with an estimated 2 million guns in private hands among a population of 8.3 million.

This national figure seems likely to grow. Sales were up by 30% in 2016 compared to the year before in four of the country’s 26 cantons, according to Swiss public television, SRF. It’s the second consecutive year that gun sales have increased sharply.

"This is an alarming development," said Hans-Jürg Käser, head of the Conference of Cantonal Justice and Police Directors. "People are deluded if they think they can protect themselves by buying weapons.”

The cantonal weapons data bank set up in 2016 will help to keep tabs on how many weapons are circulating and who owns them, he said. All 26 cantons contribute data.

Journalists from SRF's Rundschau news programme recently visited a weapons fair in Lausanne and talked to traders and buyers about increased sales.

The programme quotes a gun enthusiast as saying that many Swiss citizens want to buy a gun before the European Union tightens regulation on the acquisition of weapons.

The EU is mooting plans to limit the possession of firearms to members of shooting clubs. Switzerland is not a member of the 28-nation bloc but it would have to adapt its legislation under the Schengen treaty, a single border area in Europe.