Swiss voters approve tighter gun control, avoid EU clash

ZURICH/GENEVA (Reuters) - Swiss voters agreed by a nearly two-to-one margin on Sunday to adopt tighter gun controls in line with changes to European Union rules, heading off a clash with Brussels. The measure passed in the binding referendum under the Swiss system of direct democracy by a 64-36% margin, provisional final results showed. The restrictions, which apply to non-EU member Switzerland because it is part of Europe's Schengen open-border system, had raised hackles among shooting enthusiasts ahead of the vote.

Reuters May 20, 2019 02:05:16 IST
Swiss voters approve tighter gun control, avoid EU clash

Swiss voters approve tighter gun control avoid EU clash

ZURICH/GENEVA (Reuters) - Swiss voters agreed by a nearly two-to-one margin on Sunday to adopt tighter gun controls in line with changes to European Union rules, heading off a clash with Brussels.

The measure passed in the binding referendum under the Swiss system of direct democracy by a 64-36% margin, provisional final results showed.

The restrictions, which apply to non-EU member Switzerland because it is part of Europe's Schengen open-border system, had raised hackles among shooting enthusiasts ahead of the vote.

Failure to adopt the rules could have forced Switzerland to leave the passport-free Schengen zone and the Dublin joint system for handling asylum requests.

After militants killed scores of people in Paris in 2015, the EU in 2017 toughened laws against purchasing semi-automatic rifles such as the ones used in those attacks and made it easier to track weapons in national databases.

The initial EU proposal provoked an outcry because it meant a ban on the Swiss tradition of ex-soldiers keeping their assault rifles.

Swiss officials negotiated concessions for veterans and gun enthusiasts who take part in the country's numerous shooting clubs, but any restrictions imported from the EU go too far for right-wing activists concerned about Swiss sovereignty.

"To me, the new obligations linked to the possession of guns are not that restrictive, while the risk of not being able to benefit from Schengen's advantages are very real," said one bank employee who gave his name only as Philippe.

"It has nothing to do with blackmail, it is just that Switzerland has to align itself with a system to which it participates."

Gun rights proponents complained the rules could disarm law-abiding citizens and encroach on Switzerland's heritage and national identity, which includes a well-armed citizenry.

(Reporting by Michael Shields and Marina Depetris; Editing by Louise Heavens and Peter Graff)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.