The Swiss Difference: A Gun Culture That Works

by Helena Bachmann, Time World  |  published on December 23, 2012

Swiss marksmen shoot at targets over 300 metres away in field during 'Eidgenoessisches Feldschiessen' on Aeschlenalp near Bern

Even as the gun-control debate rises again in the U.S. in the aftermath of the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the gun-loving Swiss are not about to lay down their arms.

Guns are ubiquitous in this neutral nation, with sharpshooting considered a fun and wholesome recreational activity for people of all ages.

Even though Switzerland has not been involved in an armed conflict since a standoff between Catholics and Protestants in 1847, the Swiss are very serious not only about their right to own weapons but also to carry them around in public.

Because of this general acceptance and even pride in gun ownership, nobody bats an eye at the sight of a civilian riding a bus, bike or motorcycle to the shooting range, with a rifle slung across the shoulder.

“We will never change our attitude about the responsible use of weapons by law-abiding citizens,” says Hermann Suter, vice president of Pro-Tell, the country’s gun lobby, named after legendary apple shooter William Tell, who used a crossbow to target enemies long before firearms were invented.

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