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Switzerland was in a tough spot.
By European standards, the country is pretty open to gun ownership. It has long supported the right to keep and bear arms on a continent known for infringing on sacred liberties with profound regularity.
Unfortunately, the rest of Europe couldn’t tolerate that. Despite no evidence of Swiss firearms filtering into the rest of the continent, the European Union threatened to close off the borders to Switzerland if it didn’t enact more gun control.
That was up to the Swiss people, and unfortunately, they’ve capitulated with the EU’s demands.
A wide majority of Swiss voters cast ballots Sunday in favor of enacting stricter gun control rules better aligned with European Union regulations, according to Reuters.
The binding referendum passed by a margin of 64 to 36 percent, according to the news service. While Switzerland is not part of the EU, it is part of Europe’s Schengen open-border system, meaning bucking Brussels on gun regulations could have led to the nation leaving the Schengen zone.
The EU enacted stricter firearms rules following a November 2015 mass shooting in Paris in which ISIS militants killed 130 people, with the new rules including tighter controls on buying semiautomatic weapons and measures to make it easier to track weapons. Former members of the Swiss military traditionally keep their assault rifles, which led Swiss officials to negotiate some exemptions for veterans and recreational shooters who belong to Swiss shooting clubs, according to Reuters.
Despite that, however, this is going to create difficulties for the average Swiss citizen, especially since the weapons used by the ISIS terrorists–why must The Hill call them “militants” instead of terrorists, anyway?–were the kind restricted pretty much everywhere. The speculation is that the weapons came from illegal arms dealers from Eastern Europe, rather than from legal purchases in gun-friendly nations.
So why the pressure?
The Swiss citizenry isn’t to blame for Paris, so why hold them responsible?
For the European Union, it’s not about who’s to blame. It knows that these measures won’t stop another terrorist attack. Instead, it’s an excuse, a pretext. It’s a chance to try and pressure Switzerland into adopting gun control laws the nation ordinarily wouldn’t have.
Of course, the Swiss have mandatory military service, and veterans can keep their service weapons, meaning citizens could still theoretically have more arms per household than any other nation other than the United States. Further, there are more of what we would term Class III weapons floating around in Switzerland than even here because of that.
The EU isn’t making much of a dent into anything except Swiss sovereignty.
Then again, that’s probably more of a point than many Swiss voters realized.
I have to think that it rankles the EU to have the Swiss sitting there, refusing to bow to its every whim, still maintaining its neutrality. However, the Swiss aren’t a nation to be trifled with. It values that neutrality with a passion. You could invade Switzerland, but it’ll be costly. It’s a nation that’s fully capable of turning itself into a meatgrinder.
So, the EU is taking a different tact. It threatened Switzerland’s economy.
By threatening to close the borders after years of an open-border policy, Switzerland stood to take a massive hit financially. The average voter couldn’t comprehend how their nation would deal with it, so they voted to kiss the EU ring.
It’s a pity, too.