Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gun Control And Swiss Suicides

Most liberals tell us they don’t hate guns, and they have no plans to confiscate yours. They just want to stop the “destructive effects” of guns, by which they mean “gun crime.” But is that true? What just happened in Switzerland says it isn’t.

Switzerland has a lengthy gun tradition. For at least 800 years now, the Swiss have drafted virtually every able-bodied male into the army. As part of their service, they’ve kept their weapons at home. And when they left the service, they were allowed to keep their weapons. Thus, it’s not uncommon for Swiss families to have rifles, pistols, and even fully automatic machine guns in their homes. Current estimates say there are two million guns in Switzerland, a land of only eight million people.

Since we “know” guns cause crime, Switzerland must be a killing zone, right? Actually no. Gun crime in Switzerland is virtually nonexistent. It’s so low they don’t even bother keeping official statistics on gun crime. It is, in fact, lower than the gun crime rate in Japan, which absolutely bans guns. Switzerland ranks as the fourth safest country in the world and its violent crime rate is 1/100th that of England.

That means Switzerland must have strong gun control laws, right? Actually, no. Gun sales by the Swiss government are registered. BUT gun sales from one individual to another are regulated only in five of the twenty-six cantons. Retail gun dealers do not keep records of over-the-counter transactions, nor are such transactions reported to the government. So why do groups like the Brady Campaign claim the Swiss are heavily regulated? Because Switzerland proves that (1) the presence of guns does not cause crime and (2) the absence of gun control does not cause crime.

Despite the almost nonexistence of any gun harm in Switzerland, an international coalition of leftist groups recently tried to pass a law to take guns away from Swiss homes and require they be kept in armories. Sanity prevailed and the initiative lost: 20 of 26 cantons rejected the initiative, as did 56.3% of the population (it had to be approved both by the people and the cantons to pass).

So what was the gun groups’ ostensible reason for pushing this imitative? Gun suicides. According to these groups, Switzerland has the highest level of gun suicides in Europe. But is that a legitimate claim? Consider this.

1. Switzerland’s suicide rate is not appreciably higher than the rest of Western Europe, and is significantly lower than Eastern Europe. So there’s no logical reason to think guns contribute to Switzerland’s suicide rate.

2. Nor is gun suicide a serious problem. Switzerland has about 1,500 suicides each year, with about 340 (23%) of those involving guns. But this represents only 0.00425% of the population.

3. Suicide is acceptable in Switzerland. Indeed, Switzerland has become infamous for “suicide tourism” because you have a right to assisted suicide in Switzerland if you are “suffering from an illness that inevitably leads to death, or from an unacceptable disability.” In other words, you don’t even need to be suffering yet, when you decide to off yourself. Several people have used this law to kill themselves long before they began displaying symptoms of diseases. So logically, if there’s nothing wrong with committing suicide at the nearest suicide booth, then why is it suddenly a crisis when guns are used?
This is the real issue. Gun control groups have created a pretext. That have seized upon something they would otherwise consider acceptable when guns aren’t involved and they’ve spun this into a crisis that requires almost every household in Switzerland to hand in their guns, even though this "crisis" involves only 340 people a year, i.e. less than 0.00425% of the population -- 1 out of every 25,000 people (three people per NFL stadium). And to make this number sound large, they’ve compared it against other countries in a way that makes it sound large, even though overall suicide rates in Western Europe are fairly similar. . . and the slight increases in Switzerland and Denmark can be accounted for by assisted suicide.

What this tell us, is that there is a real dishonesty among the gun control crowd, the same dishonesty that has them lying about the level of gun control in Switzerland because Switzerland puts the lie to all of their claims. And what they're trying to do with this initiative is to eliminate the world's most obvious example that guns don't kill people, liberal permissive culture kills people.

Finally, let me point out the other side of the equation which the gun groups conveniently ignore. Do you really think Switzerland is the fourth safest country in the world by accident? Or do you think the possession of these weapons by everyone has a role in that? And if that’s the case, ask yourself two questions: (1) how many of those 340 suicides will actually be stopped by this, and (2) how many of those 8 million people will die as victims of crime once they’re disarmed?


T_Rav said...

The answer to that question would be zero and a lot, respectively.

Glad you brought this up. One of my professors recently remarked that Switzerland has very stringent gun control laws--knowing him, I don't think he was being mendacious, I think he honestly misinterpreted the gun laws--and I hadn't really looked into it. Good to know I was right in thinking there's at least one country in Europe with some shreds of sanity left.

StanH said...

I love these kind of articles Andrew, it makes liberals heads explode.

A quick anecdote that amplifies your article. Here in Georgia, we have a small town Kennesaw, just north of Atlanta. In 1982 the mayor and city council passed a city ordinance requiring anyone within the city limits, to own a firearm, kinda like Barrycare, but different…ha.. Oh my goodness, you should have heard the consternation and gnashing of teeth from the predictable leftist. So they put it to a vote and it won with overwhelming margins, unlike Barrycare. Bear in mind that Atlanta metro is a city of close to 7million, and crime is terrible in certain areas, but not Kennesaw, it has become one of the safest cities in America, robbery, burglary, gun violence, etc. are essentially non-existent. Let’s just say criminals avoid Kennesaw, and the bullets.

Ponderosa said...

Guns also allowed them to stay neutral in WWII.

Mountains and every citizen with a gun. Talk about a quagmire.

LimeyLibertarian said...

Does that mean they have to hand in their Swiss army knives as well, what about cuckoo clocks? I heard those thing can be really dangerous to your hearing.

It’s ridiculous, taking away guns will not stop someone intending to commit suicide. If they are serious they will find a way, after all Switzerland has plenty of mountains to jump off.

If I lived in the US I would certainly keep a gun to defend home & family. All I have here in the UK is a cricket bat under the bed to greet burglars, not quite the same level of deterrent as a firearm.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Yep, you're right. Handgun Control, Inc. has been putting out various PR releases stating for some time that Switzerland has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world, none of which is true. By American standards, they are nearly unregulated. And most Swiss households have them.

The problem is that Switzerland blows a hole in the liberal theories about gun ownership and gun control.

And when you take away guns or lack of gun control as the cause of violence, then (1) there's no reason to take away guns and (2) you need to find another cause to explain why so many people are killing each other in Detroit and Cleveland.... and that's the other thing the liberals don't want you looking at, because those places have fallen apart because of 60 years of intense liberal experimentation.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, There is a direct correlation between gun ownership and a serious dip in crime. What the left does to cover this up, is they do fake studies to prove that crime goes up -- then the MSM only reports on those studies instead of the dozens that show the opposite.

I've seen these studies lump in even petty vandalism (which way outnumbers more serious crimes) to hide the effect, lump in large urban areas that did not have high gun ownership rates into the "gun ownership" area and then compare those to only rural areas, and I've seen them "factor out" unexplained factors that somehow made the crime in the "no gun" areas disappear.

But we're not stupid. First, we understand that crooks look for the easy target -- that's why they pick the homes without the burglar alarms. And that's why the anti-gun people freak out when someone suggests identifying homes that do and don't have guns.

Secondly, we have great examples all over the place. I used to live in Arlington, Virginia, which is inside the beltway just across the river from Washington D.C. Everyone in VA has a gun and the crime and murder rates are really, really low. Across the river, in basically the same concentration of city and with as many minorities, you had the murder capital of the world. In DC only the bad guys had guns. If guns are so dangerous then why wasn't that reversed? Why wasn't DC safe and free and northern Virginia a murderous hell hole?

AndrewPrice said...

Also, Stan, another good example: do you remember the study in the 1990s that found the Virginia was supplying the guns used by criminals all along the East Coast? That study was used to push through a limit on the number of guns you could buy. Well, it turns out the study was done in NYC on the guns they could trace. . . a total of 5 guns. Four of those came from Virginia. That's such shoddy statistics that anyone who signed off on that report should lose their math degree and have their calculator seized, yet the media ran with this report and kept telling everyone "Virginia is the armory for criminals all along the Eastern seaboard."


AndrewPrice said...

Ponderosa, There is a famous quote that I've remember for years now. The King of Prussia (right around the time Germany was unified) was visiting the Swiss and he noticed that the Swiss army was only 40,000 men.

When he said, "what would you do if I sent 40,000 men into Switzerland." A Swiss general replied: "Each of my men would shoot once."

When the Prussian said, "what would you do if I sent 400,000 men," the Swiss general responded, "Then each of my men would shoot ten times."

The lesson was that the Swiss people are trained marksmen who all own guns and you simply could not invade the country without losing way more soldiers than it would be worth. So far, no one has been willing to test that -- even Hitler.

AndrewPrice said...


I agree entirely. The guns are simply a tool these people use, they are not a cause. And they are not even unique tools, so even if guns disappeared tomorrow, nothing would change -- people who want to commit suicide will find a way, whether they have access to guns or not. They can jump from buildings, poison themselves, step in front of trains (which is apparently a huge problem in Germany), etc. etc.

What I've always found most disingenuous about the anti-gun arguments is that they want to take guns away from law abiding people who don't use the guns for any bad purpose in the hopes that this will somehow stop predators who don't care about the laws. That makes no sense at all!

That's like putting speed regulators on bicycles to slow down cars. It completely misses the mark.

What I think it's really about is freeing the government from the fear that it's people can stand up to it. When the government knows that its people have the power to stand up to it, the government tends to avoid overreaching.

Ed said...

I am not surprised the gun control lobby would lie about any of this. They hate guns, just like they hate cars and the other things that make Americans free, and if they can eliminate guns in a place like Switzerland, then they can isolate the US. Nice article.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I agree. Guns are just one in a long list of freedoms the left wants you to give up. They want to control all facets of your life. And that's not paranoia, look at the way they want to regulate what you can eat, what you can drive (control the speed you can drive and if you wear seatbelts -- or helmets on bikes), force you to have health care, force you to send your kids to public indoctrination, where you can live, what kinds of business you can shop at, control what you can see on television and hear on the radio, etc. etc.

The list never ends. The left wants to run every single moment of your life.

Joel Farnham said...


As StanH says, " makes liberals heads explode."

Good article. It sounds like GDS is alive and kicking. Gun Derangement Syndrome. Only detected in liberals. ;-)

There is also an idiotic restriction that is imposed on people to help keep "the children" safe. Gun locks. Sure you can keep this "dangerous and totally unnecessary gun" at home. You just have to have a lock on it. It's because a child can get to your gun and kill his/her self or any one else that gun locks should be utilized.

This is of course designed to keep guns "safe" from hurting children. In actually renders a gun useless to you or anyone else. This is the companion law to you can't carry the gun around.

Liberals say it is okay to keep guns, Second Amendment and all that, but:

A) You can't carry it around.
B) You MUST keep it inoperable when not in immediate use at a gun range.

Which totally shreds the purpose of the Second Amendment.

BevfromNYC said...

StanH, we must be careful. If our articles start making liberals' heads explode spontaneously, then they will try and get a law regulating what we can say...

BevfromNYC said...

Oh, FYI Andrew - YEY, you matched the reds! Now I won't have to go away...

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Very true. They will happily say you can have a gun, so long as it doesn't work and can't ever be used. But of course, at that point, "why do you need a gun anyway? Better to just ban them since they serve no purpose."

In fact, they go to truly Rube Goldberian explanations for how guns can be used. For example, suppose you don't have kids, then how can safety locks save kids? Well.... you could be gone one day and someone might steal it and hand it to neighborhood kids, who could then use it to shoot each other. Uh huh.

Of course, the one thing liberals try very hard to avoid mentioning is that guns are an equalizer, they protect the weak from the strong. A gun can help a 95 pound woman stop a 265 pound man, or can save a homeowner from a group of home invaders. They always want to ignore that because they pathologically hate guns.

I think Ed is right that the reason they hate guns so much has to do with freedom. Guns like cars and stand alone homes represent freedom... and freedom means not letting the government run every facet of your life. Liberals hate that because they think everyone's lives should be run by a panel of experts who can do it so much better than you.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I figured you might revolt on us if I didn't match the reds, so I did! :-)

And don't give anyone any ideas about regulating our content. There are far too many liberals who would happily take that kind of job! Not that we would listen. . . :-)

StanH said...

Aw…Bev, those are the special things that make life livable. My day is unfulfilled unless I can toy with a Trotsky.

Joel Farnham said...


Compared to Liberal Logic(Oxymoron), Rube Goldberg's designs are straight. Plus Goldberg's designs work.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Very true! I never thought of that before, but Goldberg's stuff is smarter than liberalism them. LOL!

CrispyRice said...

Great article, Andrew!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Crispy!

Unknown said...

The Swiss have always mandated gun ownership for national defense, rather than merely tolerate it. Every potential invader from the outside or burglar from the inside knows that, and combined with a population that believes in the rule of law, you have an extremely low rate of death or injury from guns. Vermont is our Switzerland--extremely liberal ownership and conceal-carry laws, a homogeneous and largely law-abiding population and a death or injury rate by gun that rivals Switzerland. Anybody remember the last time they had a big gang shootout in Switzerland--or Vermont? Although I've always disdained cliches, many are often true. One of the truest: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Look to the nature and upbringing of your people, not to the brand, quantity or quality of their guns.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That's exactly the point the left doesn't want people making because (1) that doesn't lead to the elimination of guns (which makes it easier to run an abusive government, and (2) it means we need to focus on decades of failed liberalism in places like Oakland and Cleveland and we need to change the culture in those places. Personal responsibility, rule of law, and respect for the property and lives of others.... all anathema to liberal thinkers.

Unknown said...

Andrew: And so endeth the lesson. Amen!

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, LOL! So true. :-)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Excellent post, Andrew!

Another cliche that happens to be true is:

An armed society is a polite society.

If a criminal even suspects that a homeowner owns a gun that is a far bigger deterrent than burgler alarms, neighborhood watch signs, the off chance that the home occupants know kung fu, or the police.

Big dogs can be a nice deterrent but not everyone can own them (for various reasons).

Leftists seem to have a lot of faith in alarms, signs and the police.

However, seasoned burglers, rapists, serial killers, etc., know that even if they trip an alarm, unless a cop happens to be within a block or two, they have (easily) 5-10 minutes to do whatever they want (and often longer, particularly in larger cities or rural areas).

No, the truth is, more often than not, the police won't get to your house in time to protect you.

I have the utmost respect for cops but they can't do the impossible and be everywhere at the same time like leftists expect them to be.

To make matters worse, in leftist controlled cities, counties and states they have a skeleton crew, bare bones in numbers police departments, and whenever they need to make cuts to their heavily indebted budgets they choose to cut the police a form of extortion to get folks to agree to raise taxes, rather than cut their pet overbloated bureaucracies and programs that do more damage than good.

It's not a coincidence that both criminals and most democrats (and a few republicans) want more gun control.
It's not so much guns they wanna control, they wanna control us.

AndrewPrice said...

USS Ben, Thanks! I think you're right on all points.

For all that the police are capable of doing, their main ability is to pick up the pieces after the fact and to search for and arrest the criminal -- it is truly rare that they can stop a crime as it is occurring.

And to use another cliche, better alive and in legal trouble than dead.

I think it's absolutely true that criminals think twice before going after people who might be armed. That's just human nature. We weigh risks and rewards. When the risks are too high because you're likely to get killed, then you don't take the risk... it's that simple.

The risk of being killed trying to break into a house is a significant deterrent. The risk that you might eventually get caught and could be made to serve a couple years in an unpleasant but not horrible prison isn't nearly as big of a risk.

But liberals don't want to think this way because if they grasped that people made decisions based on risk and reward, then they would also grasp that much of their other theories (which rely on the idea that people are static and will not change their behaviors in response to incentives) would fall apart.

In other words, if they admit that criminals are acting rationally, then (1) they would have to admit the criminals are not victims, but are instead predators, and (2) they would realize that doing things like handing money to people will cause them to become dependent. They don't want to believe that.

Plus, all of that again argues against the government controlling every aspect of our lives.

Tennessee Jed said...

I would be curious about the overall crime rates in Switzerland or the frequency of violent crime there. Where a culture of lawlessness exists, I suspect the level of violent crime, including crimes with guns goes up. The reality in this country is that we have a constitutional right to bear arms. I have no problems registering them. In fact, I once read there is a potentialto make fire arms in the future that would have leave unique markings on the spent bullet. Thus, if a bullet is recovered, it could be traced to a specific gun. Sounds like an interesting concept.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, To give you a sense, they had 51 murders in 2009 and 185 attempted murders, 666 rapes and and about 2600 arrests for causing bodily injury. With a population of almost 8 million people, that's very insignificant.

As I mention in the article, their violent crime rate is 1/100th that of England.

And I think this is largely cultural, because the Swiss are a very orderly people, just like the Japanese. But again, that means the key is culture, not guns.

On registration, I personally don't have a problem with registration either, as long as it doesn't turn into confiscation. But I no longer trust that registration isn't just a ploy for confiscation. Basically, the gun control lobby has squandered any good will they had with me by lying and playing the trojan horse game, and I no longer trust their motives enough to agree to anything with them.

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