In a victim study carried out on behalf of the conference of cantonal police chiefs, Martin Killias at the Institute of Criminology found that around 27 percent of Swiss homes have access to a firearm.
Furthermore, the number of gun licences has increased sharply in many cantons since 2008, the SonntagsZeitung newspaper reported.
In 2008, 350 gun licences were issued in Canton St. Gallen. Two years later, that figure had risen to 1,051. The number of licences also doubled or tripled in cantons Luzern, Basel, Zurich, Solothurn and Graubünden, with only Canton Geneva recording a slight decrease.
Part of the increase is due to changes in the law, according to police. The introduction of the Schengen guidelines in December 2008 and tougher registration requirements have had an effect on statistics.
Also, since the beginning of 2010 any Swiss army member who wants to keep their gun after the end of military service needs to get a gun licence. A referendum for stricter gun control was rejected in February 2011.
Criminologist Killias believes that tighter controls are necessary: “The only thing that would help to lessen the misuse of firearms is if less people have access to a weapon,” he told SonntagsZeitung
The victim study shows that 26 percent of the men surveyed have a gun. The number of women with a gun is much lower, running at about three percent. However, these women often live with a man who owns a weapon.
Police want more transparency in the area of gun ownership, and are working on a project to merge all cantonal registers in a central register from next year.