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Self-defence? Strong demand seen for gun permits among Swiss

Police warn against buying firearms for self-defence

(Keystone)

Preliminary figures show gun sales in Switzerland have increased by up to a record 30% last year.

A news programme by public SRF television cites data from four of the country’s 26 cantons. In those four cantons, the necessary requests for gun licences have gone up by almost a third compared to 2015.

Demand for gun licenses has risen between 20% and 39% in cantons Glarus, Thurgau and Solothurn, according to SRF research. Nearly all applications were accepted. Canton Aargau has seen a 40% increase, with 5,117 applications lodged.

Canton Zug saw a rise in gun licenses from 419 to 451 last year.

The Rundschau programme interviewed an arms dealer who said that many citizens apparently feel “worried by terror attacks, reported burglaries and want to be able to defend themselves if need be”.

It would be the second consecutive year of a massive increase in gun sales if the trend is confirmed. Full figures are due to be released by each of the cantons later in spring.

However, a police spokesman cautions against the acquisition of firearms for self-defence.

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.

Switzerland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world because of its militia army. The defence ministry estimates that some two million guns are in private hands in a population of 8.3 million.

Members of certain nationalities living in Switzerland can only buy guns with a special licence from the federal authorities.

swissinfo.ch/ug

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