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CRIME

Swiss tighten gun shop security after burglary spree

Gun shops in Switzerland will need to implement a range of tighter security measures, after a series of burglaries across the country.

Guns in a weapon shop in Switzerland
Guns are more popular in Switzerland than anywhere else in Europe, although the country's strong gun rules mean there hasn't been a mass shooting for 20 years. STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP

The new security requirements will come into force from January 1 but gun shops will have five years to upgrade their security systems, the Federal Department of Justice and Police said in a statement released on Thursday. 

Over the past 12 months, several arms shops have been the target of burglaries or attempted break-ins.

The new security requirements cover safety standards for doors and windows, while shops must also have video surveillance.

Gun shops will also have to keep certain weapons such as automatic firearms in a security cabinet with an alarm linked directly to the police or an alarm centre.

EXPLAINED: Understanding Switzerland’s obsession with guns

Guns are popular in Switzerland, which has the highest gun ownership rate of any European country. 

In Switzerland, where shootings are extremely rare, the attachment to arms is rooted in the tradition of militiamen keeping their rifles at home.

Weapons are therefore widespread, though it it difficult to know how many are in civilian hands in the absence of a national register.

According to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey research centre, in 2017 Swiss civilians possessed more than 2.3 million weapons — nearly three for every 10 people, putting Switzerland 16th in the world for the number of weapons per capita.

Gun laws in Switzerland are relatively tight, although politicians on the right side of the spectrum have continually called for the rules to be relaxed, in particular after attacks and terrorist incidents

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POLITICS

Swiss finance minister makes surprise decision to quit

Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer, 71, announced he would resign at the end of the year in a surprise move on Friday after more than four decades in politics.

Swiss finance minister makes surprise decision to quit

He is the longest serving member of the Federal Council — Switzerland’s seven-member government — having been a member since January 2009. He has held the finance brief since January 2016 after seven years as the defence minister.

“I have been in politics for more than 40 years, 14 of them in the Federal Council. It is a fascinating task,” Maurer told a hastily arranged press conference.

However, “during the last year, I thought that I still have a lot of energy to do something else”, he said, announcing his resignation.

“I already have plans,” the Zurich father-of-six said, without revealing his intentions, adding that he was leaving “with one eye smiling and one eye crying”.

Maurer served twice as Switzerland’s president — which rotates annually among Federal Council members — in 2013 and 2019.

He chaired the Swiss People’s Party from 1996 to 2008. The right-wing, populist SVP has been Switzerland’s biggest party since 2003.

“Without Ueli Maurer, the SVP would never have become the country’s leading political force,” Le Temps newspaper said.

The Tages-Anzeiger daily said he was “one of the most versatile Swiss politicians of recent decades, unpredictable and agile”.

The election of his successor on the Federal Council is expected to take place on December 7. Ministers are elected by parliament.

The major parties share out the seven seats according to a so-called “magic formula” which has evolved over time.

The SVP, the centre-left Socialist Party and the centre-right Liberals have two ministers each, with the centre-right Centre party allocated one.

The left-wing Green Party hopes to secure a first-ever seat with a strong performance in the 2023 parliamentary elections.

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