Switzerland Gun Owner to EU Hands Off Our Guns

Ten years ago, Swiss hairdresser Christine Dousse feared guns. Then her daughter convinced her to join a 400-year-old local shooting club. Now she shoots twice a week. “When I am lying in the stall, facing the target, alone with my rifle … I don’t know how to describe it, but it just helps me forget a bad day,” said the 50-year-old. “It helps me completely let go of the stress and negative things.” Dousse and many of the 500 other participants at a marksmanship contest in Romont this month believe their heritage is under threat from tighter gun rules Swiss voters are expected to support in a binding referendum on Sunday. Even though Switzerland has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in Europe, polls suggest two out of three voters back controls the European Union embraced in 2017 after militant attacks in Paris and elsewhere. The new European rules make it harder to buy semi-automatic rifles and easier to track weapons in databases. Non-EU member Switzerland’s parliament and government back the regulations, but shooting enthusiasts fear a dangerous trend towards disarming them altogether. More is at stake than just guns. Switzerland must adopt the rules to remain part of Europe’s Schengen open-border system, otherwise weapons on the restricted list could reach the EU from Swiss gun shops. Leaving Schengen would disrupt travel, hurt tourism and crimp cross-border police cooperation, proponents say. Failure to adopt the rules could also force Switzerland out of common rules for handling asylum requests…

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