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Swiss army lost 70 firearms in 2020

All able-bodied Swiss men must do military service and have the option of storing their army rifle or other weapons at home. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The firearms – including assault rifles and pistols – went missing last year, the army confirmed on Tuesday.

This content was published on January 12, 2021 - 13:36
Keystone-SDA/sb

Army guns disappear every year. According to the newspaper BlickExternal link, 70 army weapons were reported missing last year, including 57 assault rifles. Of these, 54 were stolen and one was destroyed in a house fire. The remaining 15 weapons could no longer be found. Army spokesman Stefan Hofer confirmed Monday’s report to the Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA. 

Between 1969-2021, a total of 5,519 army weapons were reported missing – 418 were later recovered.

Last year 22 lost weapons reappeared, with the vast majority being returned to the army by the police, who found them during operations. The rest were handed in by civilians.

The 2020 figure was lower than recent years, which had witnessed a steadily growing trend: 69 missing in 2016, 85 in 2017, 107 in 2018 and 102 in 2019.

In 2017, the army launched an awareness-raising campaign on the subject of lost weapons.

The loss of a weapon has consequences of varying severity for members of the army. These can range from disciplinary punishment to three years imprisonment. 

Tradition

All able-bodied Swiss men must do military service and have the option of storing their army rifle or other weapons at home. This is a long-standing tradition for the Swiss army, which is supposed to be ready for a call to arms in times of crisis.  

The army rifle must be kept in a burglar-proof location and any theft must be reported immediately, but missing weapons are usually only reported when the soldier goes on military exercise or when he leaves the army and can’t find his gun.  

Switzerland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, because of its militia army. The defence ministry estimates that over two million guns are in private hands, for a population of 8.6 million.

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