We were still living in Europe when I reached adolescence and my father wisely decided that shipping me off to boarding school was preferable to serving a lengthy prison sentence for murdering his only son. Any parent who has raised a child as obnoxious as I was all the way through adolescence will rightly argue that there should be a special reduced sentence for parents who succumb to temptation: “Involuntary manslaughter resulting from extreme provocation; six-month prison sentence, maximum, with probation until all other children have passed safely through adolescence.” Something like that; perhaps more lenient.
In any event, the school I was shipped off to was in Switzerland, run by a father-and-son team of educators with lengthy educational pedigrees and credentials. The father was a doddering and decrepit old fossil in his late fifties, early sixties, something like that. The son was just a regular old man in his thirties, and—as Switzerland mandates military service for every able-bodied male between nineteen and thirty-five (I always thought it was twenty to forty-five, and researching this article I found other ages cited, but nineteen to thirty-five is close enough for government work)—I have a vivid memory of watching him, in his uniform, strap a fully automatic rifle across his shoulders, and bicycle off to train or serve or both. The rifle was kept somewhere in the vast and freezing old chateau that housed the school; all Swiss soldiers are required to keep and maintain their assigned service weapons with them.
Some quick stats for you:
**Switzerland has an almost entirely civilian militia (only 5% of the military consists of professional soldiers) who go through basic training and then continue to train and/or serve one day a month plus two or three weeks once a year. (I think this is still more or less accurate.)
**Switzerland has a long history of being politically neutral, but it has more soldiers relative to its population than any other country on earth.
**After service, men (and now women) are allowed to keep their personal small arms.
**Switzerland has the third-highest rate of private gun-ownership in the world.
**Children are taught to shoot at very young ages, where the phrase “taught to shoot” should correctly be interpreted to mean marksmanship, safety, maintenance of a firearm, responsibility, and patriotism. There is an annual shooting competition for children as well as ones for doddering old crocks like my headmasters.
**Switzerland has one of the lowest rates of crime and/or violent crime (including murder by any means) of any country in the world. (Statistics are like opinions, but while the actual numbers vary depending where you look, all sources agree on this.)
**Switzerland consistently ranks among the top five in the annual list of “happiest nations on earth.”
**Switzerland ranks second in the United Nations list of “human development,” a list which includes wealth, education, life-expectancy, and health.
**If I have my stats right, Switzerland ranks first in average wealth per resident.
I could go on, and some of this may have varied somewhat over the years, but you get the idea.
So, in case you were ever naïve enough to believe anti-gun politicians and progressive billionaire-sponsored anti-gun groups who sanctimoniously intone that they have no intention of trying to take your guns, that all they want is the “common-sense regulations” that will make us all soooooo much safer, because, after all, “if it saves just one life,” yadayadayada… If you really were that naïve, consider the following:
The European Union has mandated certain gun control measures that affect every member nation. Switzerland is not technically a member of the EU, but it is a member of something called the Schengen Area, which is, essentially, a border-free zone that allows any EU citizen to travel, live, or work in any EU nation. As a member of the Schengen Area, Switzerland is required to abide by the EU rules governing firearms. This gets complicated and I don’t wish to get bogged down in legalities here, but the bottom line is that the safest and most peaceful nation on earth, the one that has relied on a citizen army to keep it both safe and neutral for around five-hundred years, where the chance of being murdered, or even becoming a victim of violent crime, is considerably less than in any other country on earth, that same country is now being required to disarm its citizens, which is to say, its citizen army, all in the name of safety.
Worse still, various Swiss progressive groups and organizations, including the Socialist Party are calling for even more draconian gun control measures including removing local (i.e. canton) control and turning it over to the government, requiring training and sports-participation standards, and government registration.
To what end, I hear you cry? Not to make Swiss citizens safer, to “save just one life,” because other than possibly Antarctica, there is nowhere on planet earth where you can be safer. So why? Ah. Good question.
Possibly so progressive socialists can force Switzerland down the same primrose path they forced Great Britain to skip down, and we know how well merry England, the country that used to be the safest on earth, has fared in recent times.