The European restrictions imposed on Swiss gun ownership are reasonable, and failure to accept them on May 19 could spell the end of Switzerland’s participation in EU security and asylum schemes, warns Pascal Vuichard of the ‘Army officers for Schengen’ committee.
Access to the European database on convicted criminal offenders is indispensible for our police and border guards in fulfilling their daily work.
If we reject the revised gun control directive, however, we will jeopardise Switzerland's membership of both the Schengen and Dublin agreements.
The consequences of a sudden suspension of the accords are anything but desirable: as well as losing access to the above-mentioned Schengen Information System (SIS)External link, where people on wanted lists throughout Europe are recorded, every person and every vehicle would once again have to be systematically checked at border crossings.
But there is a solution: the outcome of discussions on the revised gun control directive, where the government and parliament managed to win a special deal in negotiations launched in 2013 with other Schengen member states, is a good compromise.
This gun control directive respects the peculiarities of Swiss gun traditions: our militia army members can continue to take home their assault rifles, while private marksmen can freely practice the sport of target shooting; they can also continue to freely buy or sell weapons. Hunters are not affected at all.
The revised gun law shows that Switzerland can have its way, as long as it still has a say, in Brussels.
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On the other hand, the small restrictions introduced to the gun law are perfectly reasonable.
Registration is now required for the approval of semi-automatic weapons with large magazines: for example, sub-machine guns converted to semi-automatic weapons. Should the safety of our population be put at risk because we don't want such a change? I don’t think so.
Meanwhile, Schengen stands not only for safety, but also prosperity. For example, leaving the single border Schengen space would have serious consequences for exports and tourism.
We are used to traveling around Europe without showing our passport. Today, more than 2,100,000 people cross in or out of Switzerland every day. But without membership of Schengen, there would be no systematic cooperation with our neighbours, something that would inevitably lead to big difficulties at the border.
This would be disastrous for our export-driven economy, our jobs, and indeed for coexistence with our neighbours! We also, of course, welcome tourists from all over the world, who thanks to the Schengen visa can easily visit our beautiful country. Hoteliers and local businesses would struggle much more without these foreign tourists.
Finally, thanks to Schengen we can now also send back asylum seekers who have already applied for asylum in another Schengen/Dublin country. This would no longer be possible were we no longer to remain in the scheme.
It's clear: the advantages of Schengen speak for themselves. We all enjoy and benefit from a high level of security and prosperity in our country, and we want to continue to do so in the future.
The only sensible thing to do is to approve the updated gun control regulations.
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