Switzerland Is An Excellent Model for the Second Amendment: But Probably Not for the Reasons You Think.

Students in my Contemporary World Issues class have been have been engaged in some serious and at times intense debate over guns, gun violence and the 2nd Amendment. Frequently in those debates, Switzerland has been mentioned as the best proof that more gun ownership does not lead to more gun violence. I admit that I have read this many, many times in blog posts and have heard it many times on television and radio, and in the past I more or less accepted that argument. So, as is often the case, I had to do some quick and serious research to keep up with my students. Since what I found was fascinating, to say the least, I wanted to share a few Internet sources and pass on some information about Switzerland and their gun laws. Sources are cited at the end of the post.

Bullet Points (pun intended) on Firearms in Switzerland

  • Nearly every male in Switzerland goes through firearm training at the age of 20.
  • Swiss males are allowed to keep their firearms after the end of their military service at age 30. The fully automatic weapons must be converted to semi automatic before they can keep them as civilians.
  • Switzerland has universal gun registration on gun ownership.
  • Switzerland has universal background checks on all gun purchases.
  • Switzerland requires universal reporting of firearm transactions, whether commercial or private transfer of ownership.
  • Switzerland’s carry laws are highly regulated and very restricted. Other than militia members transporting their firearms on their way to militia training, very few people are allowed to actually carry firearms. And they cannot be loaded.
  • Despite the militia requirement in Switzerland, the rate of gun ownership (by percentage) in the United States is much higher than in Switzerland.
  • Males berween 20 and 30 years of age are required to own firearms in Switzerland because they are the nation’s well regulated milita. Switzerland has no standing army. It is their civilian militia (much like the intent of the American 2nd amendment) that defends their nation against foreign aggression.
  • The vast majority of militia members are not even allowed to store ammo at home. And for the 2ooo or so–that’s right only 2000–militia members who do have ammo, it is sealed and inspected regularly.
  • Switzerland’s gun ownership rate is only fourth highest in the world. Surprised?

In reality, and perhaps ironically, and to the chagrin of the NRA, Switzerland is a fine model for the intent of the American Constitution’s 2nd Amendment. They have a well-regulated militia instead of a standing army. They have universal background checks and universal licensing. They require firearm training before a gun can be owned. They have near total restrictions on the purchase and use of ammunition. In fact, they regulate and restrict much more than America does. Interesting.




Finally a Republican Plan that Inspires Me!

Once the Conservatives finally discovered that the country is not moving to the right as they claimed; and once they discovered that their position on guns and gays were far out of step with the majority of Americans; and once they discovered that their positions on not raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans were opposed by the vast majority of voters; and once they discovered that their position on climate change, intelligent design and prayer in schools was not so well received by the electorate; and once they discovered that Mitt Romney did actually lose the election…they finally decided they needed to make a few dramatic changes. The new strategy is, of course, to simply change the way the votes are counted. Forget the very basic premise of the nation’s democratic foundation: one man one vote because the Neo-Conservative leadership in America truly believe that every conservative vote is worth more than any liberal, progressive or independent vote.

If you listen closely to the arguments by the Republican vote riggers, you can hear rationalizations, yes, but also a real idea: Rural Americans deserve disproportionate political representation. Charles W. Carrico, a small-town Republican state senator from Virginia who sponsored his state’s Electoral College–alteration bill, said, “People in my district—they feel discouraged by coming out because their votes don’t mean anything if they’re outvoted in metropolitan districts.” Jase Bolger, speaker of the state House of Representatives in Michigan, likewise fretted over the voting power of the urban hordes: “I hear that more and more from our citizens in various parts of the State of Michigan, that they don’t feel like their vote for president counts, because another area of the state may dominate that or could sway their vote.” http://nymag.com/news/features/republican-party-2013-2/

Seriously, the new plan to retake the White House and Congress  is to take the losing side and simply find a way to call it the winning side. Is there anything more Orwellian than that?

With control over so many state legislatures, Republicans have already done some of the most creative gerrymandering imaginable. And now that the legislative districts are all screwed up in favor of their party they want the electoral college to reflect the skewed representation. It apparently wasn’t enough in the last election to close polling places in Florida where minorities–read democrats–vote, creating long lines. It wasn’t enough to purge legal voters from the rolls, place robocalls deceiving voters about polling places and times, the sudden need without any justification for voter ID cards, electronic voting machines changing votes, and Billboards in Ohio intimidating minority voters–all of these were not quite enough to steal an election. (And I haven’t even mentioned hanging chads and the Supreme Court of 2000.) Since none of those strategies worked, Conservative leaders will only be satisfied when they can lose and still win.

So, this story has inspired me. It really has. Among other responsibilities I have, I am the Athletic Director at a school that has struggled in recent years in basketball. Since one team in our league dominates year in and year out, I have decided to propose a few rules changes. From now on, the best team has to do all the travelling while the worst teams get to play at home all the time. That means the best team has to ride on a school bus for 1-2 hours while the less competitive teams get to sleep in on Saturdays. I’m also changing the scoring rules. Every time THEY make a basket it only counts for one point. All of OUR baskets will count as three-pointers. (Because after all, it isn’t how many baskets you make, it’s how many points you have.) WE will no longer have to follow rules of “travelling” and “double-dribble” and from now on officials can only call three fouls on each of OUR players. THEY will have to play with four players on the floor while WE get to play with six. At the end of the game there will be a score that was arrived at, based on the new rules and the winner will be declared. Seems reasonable to me. I’m calling it the Republican Plan.