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Up in arms Swiss cabinet wants to adopt tighter EU gun rules

A Swiss militia soldier completes mandatory firing practice

(Keystone)

Switzerland should fall in line with stricter European Union guns regulations, the Swiss cabinet decided on Friday. The move, which still has to go to parliament, has caused controversy in the gun lobby. 

Switzerland is not a member of the EU but it is subject to these new rules as a member of the 26 single-border Schengen group countries, the government said. 

But it added in a statement that it would take a pragmatic approach and use existing leeway to ensure the traditional rights of Swiss gun owners. 

Bern had been in a dilemma over the regulations because of strong opposition from the Swiss gun lobby, which was boosted by support from the rightwing Swiss People’s Party. A particular worry was how the rules would affect members of the Swiss militia army, who keep their guns at home. 

The Swiss rifle association has already said it would force a referendum – collecting at least 50,000 signatures – if the stricter rules were approved. 

Paris attacks 

The regulations include introducing tighter controls on buying and selling semi-automatic weapons, reducing the number of cartridges for semi-automatic rifles to ten, and the setting up of an arms register. 

In a statement, the government pointed to the already worked-out special clause in the EU regulations, which would allow members of the Swiss militia army to keep their weapons at home. They may also keep 20 cartridges at home if they are proven and regular members of a gun club. 

The EU rules for tightening gun controls came in the wake of deadly attacks in Paris in 2015.

swissinfo.ch and agencies/ilj

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