The planned reform of Swiss gun laws to comply with EU rules goes against both the Swiss constitution and public opinion, says Luca Filippini, president of the Swiss gun lobby.
I am against the new gun law because its provisions are deeply unfair, and because they undermine civil liberties – that is, the freedom to own a firearm.
The proposed rules will also do absolutely nothing to achieve their stated aim to combat terrorism.
In addition, they run counter to the principle of proportionality of the state's activity, enshrined in Article 5, paragraph 2 of the Swiss constitution.
In the wake of four attacks by Islamic militants in recent years, the EU imposed tighter gun restrictions to prevent further assaults with firearms. And yet none of the weapons used in these killings had been legally obtained. Not even one!
The regulations are unconstitutional, but that’s not all. In 2011, Swiss voters threw out a people’s initiative, which was similar to the current parliamentary wish to implement the EU gun control directiveexternal link. In other words, the law approved by a majority in parliament is totally contrary to what the people want.
In the offing
In the run up to the 2005 vote on Swiss membership of the Schengen single border treaty, the Swiss government assured citizens in writing that the country’s gun law would not be drastically tightened as a result. Personal gun ownership would also not become dependent on ‘necessity’, it said.
Should the provisions of the constitution, the will of the people, and the promises of the government no longer apply? I think that in such a situation we have not only a serious problem with the gun law, but above all with the rule of law.
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Basically, the EU directive outlaws the possession of firearms by private individuals, therefore violating civil liberties.
In Article 17 of its directive, the EU retains the right to review its provisions every five years to ensure their effectiveness and, if necessary, to strengthen them. It doesn’t take superhuman powers to understand that a further tightening of the laws has already been de facto decided, given that the impact of the current directive as an anti-terrorist measure is virtually inefficient.
An absolute ban on semi-automatic weapons and the introduction of psychological tests at all levels would come next, followed by similar measures on the use of shotguns by hunters, and so on...
No to disarming citizens
The right to own weapons is one of the most important freedoms. Western civilisation is a civilisation based on human rights, on the idea that every human being has certain fundamental rights that are inalienable by virtue of his or her condition as a human being. We must retain the ability to use these inalienable rights under all circumstances, otherwise they would neither be inalienable nor proper rights.
If the state can prohibit an irreproachable citizen from possessing a commercially produced firearm, human rights would be transformed into mere state privileges: without the support of the state or, worse, in the face of the power of a lawless state, the citizen is completely defenceless and therefore also without rights.
Unfortunately, in Switzerland too, there is a growing argument that the right to own a firearm is an unnecessary anachronism in a modern democracy.
But this point of view is downright naive and unforgivable. Following the logic of those who consider the right to possess weapons to be superfluous, we could also abolish the separation of powers and scrap the armed forces. Indeed, without parliament, the courts and the army, we would save a few billion Swiss francs each year.
Yet the individual right to possess firearms is a kind of mechanism that protects individuals from possible abuse by the state or the collective. It is certainly no coincidence that throughout history, totalitarian regimes often began exercising power by abolishing the right to private possession of firearms.
No to the reform of the gun law on May 19!
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of swissinfo.ch.
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