Swiss to block arms issue to "dangerous" recruits

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 05, 2012 2:51 PM
Swiss to block arms issue to "dangerous" recruits

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss government said on Wednesday it wants civil and military authorities to share information to try to cut gun crimes by violent recruits with access to army-issued weapons.

Control over the issue of military weapons is a growing area of concern in Switzerland, where everyone who undergoes military training has access to a firearm.

Public prosecutors and judges will alert the relevant military authorities if they believe recruits with criminal charges against them could be a danger to themselves or others, allowing the army to withhold their firearms.

"In recent years we have detected hundreds of future or serving soldiers who are a potential danger to themselves or third persons," said a spokesman for the Swiss armed forces, adding that monitoring had been set up after a high profile murder four years ago.

The Swiss parliament asked the government to look into possible solutions following a number of murders committed with army-issue firearms.

Most Swiss males undergo military training and form part of the country's military reserve until at least age 30 and are obliged to keep their army issued weapons at home, although since 2007 they have no longer been issued with live ammunition.

Calls for tighter control on firearms ownership have grown in Europe since Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting spree last year.

Policies on gun ownership could be an important point of debate in the run-up to presidential elections in the United States this year, after recent deadly shootings in Wisconsin and Colorado reignited calls for more gun control.

The issue is a hotly debated one in the United States, where the right to own a gun is written into the constitution.

(Reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto; Editing by Jon Hemming)