The Frau was planning a nice holiday post for this week when the holiday spirit got dampened in a big way last Friday. So instead of posting about skiing in Bettmeralp, sledding on Rigi, or New Year’s fireworks in Zurich, The Frau will be “celebrating” the season with a big bang of a different sort.
|In Switzerland, children are encouraged to be sharpshooters|
The Frau is not a fan of guns despite Duck Hunt being the one and only video game she ever played with a passion. One gun is one too many, in her opinion, so let’s get right down to things and discuss a country that has almost as many guns in circulation as people: The United States.
In Richmond, Virginia, The Frau once lived across the hallway from a guy that owned a gun. She knew he owned a gun because he actually wore it on a holster when he was out and about. This was perfectly legal in Virginia. Maybe it made him feel safer, but it sure didn’t do much for The Frau except remind her to avoid an argument with him at all costs.
Sometimes life doesn’t make a lot of sense—at least when it comes to protecting it. One person puts a bomb in a shoe and now we’re all walking around airports in our socks, but hundreds of school kids can be shot dead before they ever get to prom and we do nothing. Nothing.
Speaking of doing nothing about guns, welcome to Switzerland. It’s a country with about the same gun freedoms as the United States. And as the U.S. considers taking action (key word, considers), let’s have a look at a little Swiss inaction concerning gun control:
In 2011, the Swiss rejected an initiative to restrict firearm access by a vote of 56 percent to 44 percent.
There are a lot of guns in Switzerland and there are a lot of people who like them.
Every Swiss army recruit is issued a gun on their second day of training, which he most likely stores in his house. There are shooting ranges all over the country, many of which cross hiking trails. And every September, the entire population of Zurich takes a Monday off so that children can compete in a shooting contest (see photo above of Knabenschiessen).
In 2011, estimates found on swissinfo.ch for the number of firearms in Switzerland ranged from 1.2-2.3 million. With a population of 7.9 million, that means about 15-29% of the population owns a gun, assuming they all own just one.
How does this compare to the United States?
It is estimated that 280-300 million guns are in circulation in the United States. With a population of 311 million, that means at least 90% of the population owns a gun, assuming they all own just one.
Insert moment of silence here.
And according to a gallup poll taken in 2011, about 47% of Americans keep one gun at home.
But how safe are we because of this gun ownership? Well, let's look at the rate of death by firearms. The U.S., with 9.2 deaths per 100,000 firearms, ranks 12th in the world. Switzerland, with 3.5 deaths per 100,000 firearms, ranks 21st.
Conclusion? Neither country is that great when it comes to gun violence, but The Frau is safer in Switzerland. But if she wants to live in the safest place in the world where death by firearms is concerned, she’s going to have to move to Chile or Japan.
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