Not a banned weapon. And don’t worry, it’s not ever going to be. It’s not like someone’s gonna whip this out on you in a dark alley, after all.
Gun nuts are fond of pointing out that gun ownership is a requirement in Switzerland, in the event that the famously neutral alpine country should ever find itself at war. They also like to insist that an armed society is a polite society (forgetting, of course, that the super-rude United States is the most gun-ridden land on Earth.) What’s not mentioned is that in spite of their preponderance of firearms and mandatory military service for all adult males, the Swiss have a serious violence problem, particularly in the major cities. And that their politicians are tackling that…with more laws, not more weapons:
BERN: Female politicians of the SVP and SP parties want to ban knives outside the home.
A general knife ban would be a helpful measure against violence in public, say parliamentarians Andrea Geissbühler (SVP) and Chantal Galladée (SP) in the “Sunday” newspaper.
At the moment, only flick-knives and butterfly knives are banned. Now the anti-weapon initiative is in its next phase. Army weapons are no problem for the police, unlike knives.
“Lots of young people take knives along when going out,” says SVP member of parliament and policewoman, Andrea Geissbühler, in an interview with “Sunday” about the anti-weapons initiative. The reason? “People have to defend themselves [against gangs] when going out”, arrested teenagers have told her. Geissbühler’s idea: “We have to tighten our anti-knife laws. Outside the home, no one should be carrying a knife–with the exception of Swiss Army pocketknives.”
The SVP politician found spontaneous support from a counterpart in the SP, Chantal Galladée: “If you want to sharpen the law against knives, I’m right there with you.”
Geissbühler, a policewoman, proposed the knife ban based on observations from her workaday life. “I know what it’s like in Bern. In the Neuengasse and the Aarbergergasse, every Friday and Saturday night, we had to set up all-night patrols, or we’d end up with brawls and knife fights.” Usually, the culprits are foreigners–Turks and ex-Yugoslavs. “They’re very thin-skinned. A tiny nudge is perceived as an attack,” says Geissbühler.
Criminal statistics from the federal police agency show that some 5% of physical injuries come from “bludgeonings and stabbings”. Knives are a factor in 13% of robberies and about 40% of homicides.
So, this is knives, and not guns, you say? Well, there’s no indication that guns won’t be next, if they’re found to be a factor in robberies, school bullying and homicides. If Switzerland finds itself confronted with an increase in gun violence (and there’s no way of telling that it won’t), I’m sure a rethink of Swiss gun law–or lack thereof–will be in order. BTW, there IS talk of imposing gun controls in Switzerland now; it’s up for a vote in February of this year, as it happens.
In the meantime, I find it interesting to note that two women are spearheading the anti-knife initiative in the Swiss parliament. Not unlike Canada, where two women (not parliamentarians, but private citizens) started the ball rolling for the federal gun registry and tighter gun controls. Why is it, I wonder, that we women always seem to be the ones to do the necessary thing? Surely not because we’re the ones disproportionately at risk of ending up as victims of violence?