The Swiss government has come out against an initiative to ban Swiss men from keeping their military-issue guns at home.
Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said on Monday that the current gun law was sufficient to protect against misuse and that the initiative would be difficult to put into practice.
The people’s initiative, launched by the centre-left Social Democratic Party – Sommaruga’s own party – as well as pacifist and doctors’ organisations, will be put to a nationwide vote on February 13, 2011.
It calls for army weapons to be kept in arsenals and for a national gun register to be created. It also wants to ban private individuals from buying or owning particularly dangerous guns such as automatic weapons and pump-action shotguns.
According to the committee which launched the initiative, around 2.3 million weapons are in circulation in Switzerland, of which 1.7 million are current or old army-issue rifles and pistols. It claims army weapons are responsible for around 300 deaths a year.
Sommaruga said that the government took the issues raised by the initiative seriously. But the current law is enough, she argued. In addition, several measures, such as a ban on keeping munitions at home and being able to voluntarily store weapons at local army bases, are already in place. More are to follow, the minister said.
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.
swissinfo.ch and agencies