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Switzerland hasn’t had a mass shooting since 2001, when a man stormed the local parliament in Zug, killing 14 people and then himself.
The country has about 2 million privately owned guns in a nation of 8.3 million people. In 2016, the country had 47 homicides with firearms. The country’s overall murder rate is near zero.
The National Rifle Association often points to Switzerland to argue that more rules on gun ownership aren’t necessary. In 2016, the NRA said on its blog that the European country had one of the lowest murder rates in the world while still having millions of privately owned guns and a few hunting weapons that don’t even require a permit.
But the Swiss have some specific rules and regulations for gun use.
Business Insider took a look at the country’s past with guns to see why it has lower rates of gun violence than the US.
Switzerland is obsessed with getting shooting right. Every year, it holds a shooting contest for kids aged 13 to 17.
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Zurich’s Knabenschiessen is a traditional annual festival that dates back to the 1600s.
Though the word roughly translates to “boys shooting” and the competition used to be only boys, teenage girls have been allowed in since 1991.
Kids in the country flock to the competition every September to compete in target shooting using Swiss army service rifles. They’re proud to show off how well they can shoot.
Accuracy is prized above all else, and a Schutzenkonig — a king or queen of marksmen — is crowned.
Having an armed citizenry helped keep the Swiss neutral for more than 200 years.
The Swiss stance is one of “armed neutrality.”
Switzerland hasn’t taken part in any international armed conflict since 1815, but some Swiss soldiers help with peacekeeping missions around the world.
Many Swiss see gun ownership as part of a patriotic duty to protect their homeland.
Most Swiss men are required to learn how to use a gun.
Unlike the US, Switzerland has mandatory military service for men.
All men between the ages of 18 and 34 deemed “fit for service” are given a pistol or a rifle and trained.
After they’ve finished their service, the men can typically buy and keep their service weapons, but they have to get a permit for them.
In recent years, the Swiss government has voted to reduce the size of the country’s armed forces.