Terror fears trigger Swiss run on guns

There has been a marked increase in applications for gun licences in Switzerland, a development police attribute to growing insecurity.

Terror fears trigger Swiss run on guns
More people want to own a gun. Photo: kecko.jpg

The SonntagsBlick newspaper reported new statistics showing the number of applications increased by 17 percent last year over the previous year.

The statistics from all 26 cantons showed that there were 29,146 applications for gun ownership made in 2015.

All cantons with the exception of Jura in the northwest reported an increase. In most cases there was a double-digit jump in requests.

Demand was highest in Obwalden (plus 49 percent), Lucerne (plus 34 percent) and Zug (33 percent).

And the trend looks set to continue this year. Figures provided by the cantons of St Gallen and Basel Country showed gun sales there were up 30 percent already this year, the paper said.

The increase in gun ownership is not down to people who shoot for a hobby, according to SonntagsBlick, as the number of those belonging to gun clubs has remained constant or even fallen in recent years.

There also appears to be no connection with army weapons. It has been the case for six years that anyone wanting to hold onto an army-issue gun following the end of their military service has needed a licence.

Police sources told the paper the likely reason for the boom in applications was the rise in fears over terrorism.

The 2016 security report by the Centre for Security Studies of the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich backed this up, according to the paper.

The report found growing pessimism about the global political situation with 87 percent of the view that more needed to be done to fight terrorism.

To own a gun in Switzerland you must file an application with the police, be over 18 and be able to prove you do not pose a danger to yourself or others.

Gun owners additionally need a licence to carry their weapon, and that requires passing a test.


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Switzerland arrests suspected Isis sympathisers in numerous raids

Four suspected members or sympathisers of the Islamic State group have been detained in Germany and Switzerland in a cross-border operation, prosecutors from the two countries said Tuesday.

Switzerland arrests suspected Isis sympathisers in numerous raids

In Switzerland, three people were picked up in the cantons of Zurich, Sankt Gallen and Lucerne, national authorities said, adding that seven further searches were also carried out.

The suspects, whose identities were not released, are accused of “participation in or support for the outlawed organisation Islamic State”.

In Germany, a man was detained in the western town of Roemerberg, federal prosecutors said.

Identified only as Aleem N., he is “strongly suspected of preparing a serious violent attack threatening the security of the state and of belonging to a foreign terrorist organisation”.

He is believed to have attempted to travel from Germany via Turkey to Syria in September 2020.

“In Syria, the suspect wanted to join the foreign terrorist organisation Islamic State, attain military training and then take part in combat or terrorist attacks,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

However, Aleem N. was unable to reach Syria for reasons that were not immediately clear and returned to Germany.

“At the latest in April 2021 he joined Isis in Germany and carried out vast propaganda activities for the group,” prosecutors said.

His duties included “mainly translating official texts, videos and audio messages by Isis from Arabic into German and distributing them on various Telegram channels in German-speaking areas”.

“Isis considered such activities to be equivalent to taking part directly in violent jihad,” it added.

The suspect is also believed to have taken part in a telephone conversation with Isis leaders in late 2021 to “verify his reliability” before travelling to “IS zones of operation”.

However, “a further attempt” to reach Syria in January 2022 “failed again”.

Aleem N. was to appear on Tuesday before a federal judge who will decide whether to remand him in custody.

German intelligence services estimate that more than 1,150 people have travelled from Germany to Iraq and Syria since 2011 for Islamist reasons.

More than a third have since returned to Germany, while at least 270 have been killed in Iraq or Syria.

“A low three-digit-number” are currently detained in the two countries, according to the intelligence services’ 2021 report.