Between 1969 and 2009 a total of 4,674 military service weapons went missing – the vast majority stolen, the rest lost or unaccounted for for some other reason.
The situation is improving, however, according to the defence ministry. In 2008, the army registered 49 missing weapons; in 2009, the number was 26.
According to a report in the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper, a particularly high number of weapons went missing between 1995 and 2004, when an above-average number of soldiers were dismissed.
Army spokesman Christoph Brunner said in most cases the missing weapons ended up in a civilian environment.
All able-bodied Swiss men must do military service and in most cases must keep their army rifle at home. This has to be kept in a burglar-proof location and any theft must be reported immediately, but missing weapons are usually only reported when the soldier has to go on exercise or when he leaves the army and can’t find his gun.
On February 13 the Swiss go to the polls to vote on an initiative seeking to set up a national arms register and ban army-issue firearms from private households. It also aims to tighten regulations for licensed gun holders in an effort to fight possible abuse.
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