GENEVA – The citizens of Switzerland voted in favor of increasing limitations on the possession of weapons on Sunday.
A referendum was held to adapt the laws in the country, which has one of the highest rate of guns per capita in the world, to similar measures taken by the European Union to deal with extremist terrorism.
Yes won with 64 percent of the votes (1.5 million people), in a consultation that had a 44 percent participation rate and in which all regions of the country voted in favor of the new legislation, apart from Ticino, in the south.
The EU toughened its laws on the possession of weapons in 2017, in response to attacks such as those that occurred in Paris in 2015.
It asked Switzerland to introduce reforms to adapt to this, given the ease of crossing the borders between the central European country, which is part of the Schengen area, and the rest of the EU.
The legal modification mainly affects the possession of semi-automatic weapons, which can now only be possible with “exceptional authorization.”
The sectors opposed to the reform, mainly linked to conservative parties, claimed the proposal was “anti-Swiss” since it endangered national traditions such as the practice of hunting and shooting.
In Switzerland there are approximately 27 weapons per 100 people, something that is explained in part by the fact that military service is mandatory and those who enter it receive a weapon – usually a rifle of assault – that they can keep at home.
Defenders of the reforms argued that they do not compromise popular sports such as shooting, nor force the Swiss to surrender their rifles.
In the referendum session – Switzerland has one every three months – the Swiss were also called to vote on a tax reform to finance their pension system, the so-called AVS, which voters accepted with 66 percent of yeses.