Switzerland — one of the most heavily armed countries in Europe — voted to comply with stricter European Union gun laws in a referendum Sunday.
While Switzerland doesn’t belong to the EU, it is part of the bloc’s Schengen Area which is a zone that can be visited without a visa or passport by citizens of 26 European nations.
Following terrorist gun attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016, the EU tightened gun rules, known as the “EU Gun Ban”, the bloc encouraged Switzerland to comply with its laws.
The projections from the gfs.bern polling outfit saw the measure passing in the binding referendum by a comfortable 67-33% margin.
If Switzerland refused, the country could have been excluded from the Schengen Area.
But what are Switzerland’s current gun laws and how might they change from this referendum?
What are Switzerland’s current gun laws?
Firearms legislation in Switzerland is comparatively liberal, more similar to gun politics in the United States than to that in the European Union.
The country allows the free purchase of semi-automatic rifles but special permits are required for automatic weapons, suppressors and target lasers. Hollow-point ammunition is also legal in Switzerland but limited to hunting.
To purchase guns, the buyer must obtain a weapon acquisition permit with a valid ID, residence address and criminal record copy not older than three months.
Swiss citizens and foreigners with a C permit over the age of 18 — who are not identified as a threat to themselves or others — can request the permit. However, foreigners with citizenship to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Algeria and Albania are excluded from the right to possess weapons in Switzerland.
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