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Teddy bear to trigger emotions in gun law vote

Will the stuffed toy win votes? Keystone

The committee behind an initiative to ban Swiss men from keeping their military-issue guns at home has launched its campaign.

This content was published on December 5, 2010 - 15:13
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The people’s initiative, launched by the centre-left Social Democratic Party, pacifist and medical organisations, will be put to a nationwide vote on February 13.

The initiative committee presented its website and slogan, “Protect families – vote yes to prevent gun violence” on Sunday. Pictured is a teddy bear with blood dripping from a bullet hole in its chest.

The initiative 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, around 2.3 million weapons are in circulation in Switzerland, of which 1.7 million are current or old army-issue rifles and pistols.

They claim army weapons are responsible for around 300 deaths a year and having access to a gun makes fatal incidents easier, especially gun suicides.

Women in particular support the initiative, the committee added. And it said psychiatry and doctors' organisations backed the plan because, if approved, it would reduce the high rate of suicides in which guns are used.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga will present the government’s position at a news confernce on Monday.

The cabinet and parliament have already spoken out against the initiative, saying current gun laws are strong enough to prevent misuse.

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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