Swiss voters will deliver their verdict on whether Switzerland should adopt European Union laws on gun ownership. Two newspapers on Sunday said a proposal opposing changes to legislation had achieved enough backing to force a vote.
The NZZ am Sonntag and SonntagsBlick newspapers both said several well-placed sources had confirmed that the required 50,000 signatures had been secured. The referendum backers said they would not confirm the reports before the deadline for handing in the initiative on January 17.
The EU tightened weapons legislation following the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015. The aim is to improve the exchange of information among member states on gun ownership, curb the illegal arms trade and restrict access to particularly dangerous weapons. Switzerland, as a signatory to the Schengen treaty on free movement, is expected to implement the changes by the end of May 2019
The EU directive aims to make access more difficult to arms that can cause a large number of deaths, such as some semi-automatic weapons. Switzerland is not an EU member, but must also reform its legislation or risk its Schengen membership.
The Swiss government has nevertheless obtained some concessions. With regard to arms for military service, they may still be kept at home after service has ended, and they may be used for sports. Twenty-shot guns will not be prohibited.
However, this was not enough for some people in Switzerland who appear to have forced a national vote on the issue. According to NZZ am Sonntag research, there are an estimated 2.5 million to three million firearms in Switzerland, representing a gun for every third Swiss inhabitant.