Doctors, police call for stricter gun laws

Police and doctors associations have issued a plea for tougher gun laws, which will come to a nationwide vote in February.

This content was published on December 13, 2010 - 19:59 and agencies

“We want to save lives, not do away with the army,” said Jacques de Haller, president of the Swiss Medical Association, in reference to a fear that the initiative to ban men from keeping military-issue guns at home could be seen as a pacifist smokescreen to weaken the army.

Jean-Pierre Monti, the president of the union representing employees of the federal police force, said officers understand better than anyone the threat represented by the more than 2.3 million privately owned weapons in the country.

Monti added that it would ease police work if every weapon was registered in a centralised database.

On February 13, the Swiss will be asked to vote for or against the introduction of a national gun register and weapons to be kept in arsenals, not private homes.

The government has come out against the proposal, saying current gun laws are sufficient to protect against misuse and that the initiative would be difficult to put into practice.

The centre-left Social Democratic Party is the main political group backing the initiative.

Keeping military firearms at home is a long-standing tradition for the Swiss militia army, which is supposed to be ready for a call to arms in times of crisis.

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