Swiss Keep Shooting, But For How Much Longer? notes that this vote was about national identity:

“A gun in the cellar has become a metaphor for a traditional, well-fortified and independent Switzerland,” said the St Galler Tagblatt, adding that an “excellent marketing machine” had stylised the gun debate as a question of national good or evil.

The Basler Zeitung agreed that the image of a “fortified Switzerland” had been evoked explicitly. “The vote wasn’t about having a weapon in your cupboard, but about Swiss identity as such,” it said.

Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger agreed. “For broad sections of the population it was a question of national identity, of defending freedom and self-determination and of the fight against the nanny state”.

Despite vast differences between the shooting culture in the United States and that in Switzerland, I believe we fight for the same reasons. These argument would be familiar to Americans (poster says “A monopoly on guns for criminals?”). This debate has never really had anything to do with guns themselves, except to our opponents. The question is, how long are the Swiss going to hold out?

Polling shows there was a generational gap in the voting. The Swiss shooting culture is linked very heavily to their militia system. Their militia system is something many younger Swiss, who have grown up in a much safer Europe than their parents and grandparents, believe is an anachronism. They may be willing to vote for heavier gun restrictions if they believe it will convince their fellow countrymen to abandon the militia system.

Such a move was not be so bad in this country, where the tradition of gun ownership outlasted our militia system falling into disuse. But would the Swiss shooting culture be able to survive the death of the militia system, as Switzerland also looks toward greater integration with the European Community? I have my doubts. Having a generation gap is never a good thing, and extricating the Swiss gun culture from their militia system might have to come sooner or later, if they are to preserve at least a semblance of their traditions.

One thought on “Swiss Keep Shooting, But For How Much Longer?”

  1. “Having a generation gap is never a good thing”

    I’d revise this to ‘being on the wrong side of a generation gap is never a good thing’. There’s a generation gap on gay rights too, but the younger group is on the pro-freedom side.

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