Do fewer guns equal less risk?

Rifles

Switzerland is a country with a gun tradition, both militarily and for sport. It has also faced high profile gun crimes in recent years.  Just this week, pensioner Peter Kneubühl appeared in court for his 2010 shooting of a police officer after barricading himself in his home.  And last week, a man in Daillon in the canton of Valais shot three people dead, and injured two others. That man’s weapons had been seized by police previously because he suffered a reported mental condition. Swiss gun laws and mindsets have evolved over the last two decades but the country still has a reputation for being comfortable with guns. This impression has been heard especially by some in the United States, as that nation faces a debate over guns following the Newtown shooting last month.

While Washington debates what to do about guns, some gun advocates are looking abroad for inspiration, to Switzerland. They say the Swiss have high gun ownership rates, low crime, and lots of freedom.

But some Swiss reject the comparison. After a long-weekend, Daniel Wyss’ gun shop in a village near the Swiss capital Bern, is buzzing with sportsmen and gun enthusiasts eager to re-arm.

Wyss said his customers are hunters, sportsmen, collectors, and folks who want to protect themselves. In that respect Swiss gun enthusiasts wouldn’t seem so different from those in the US.

But Jo Lang, vice president of the Swiss Green Party, said there is one big difference. Lang is a survivor of Switzerland’s worst shooting tragedy in 2001, when a gunman shot 14 people in a state legislature. And he’d like to see the difference remain…

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U.S. bank clients casualties in an ‘economic war’?

When the CEO of Switzerland’s biggest bank calls tax disputes with the United States and other nations “an economic war” people take notice. UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti said that last month, as Switzerland faces a still contentious relationship with its neighbors and the U.S. hunting for untaxed assets hidden in the alpine confederation. The U.S. is the world’s only super-power, and has not shied from using its economic and diplomatic might to seek and reclaim back taxes, and punish banks who helped hide the money. But in any war, even an economic one, there are casualties. And the changes Swiss banks have made in response to the U.S. have made things for some Americans in Switzerland much more difficult.

Katherine moved to Switzerland from Ohio in 2008 to be an Au Pair. The US was in the middle of its financial crisis and she figured “why not?” First order of business in Zurich was to get a bank account.

“I had gone to I think it was UBS the first time, and they had said that they didn’t offer any bank accounts to Americans who had less than $250,000,” she said. “My boyfriend, at the time, and I just laughed at that, like, ‘she has to have a bank account. She’s going to be living here.’”

Katherine was ultimately granted a young person’s account at UBS. Now, years later, the graphic designer and her husband are having account troubles again, trying to get a mortgage.

“We got so far along in the mortgage process that people were telling us it was a good time to buy, and then it was only literally right before we were going to sign the contract that we were finding out, ‘Wait a minute, she’s American, this is a red flag, this is a problem.’” …

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What is Classical Music worth to us?

Kbaq

My colleagues at WDR3 asked me to compare the cities of Cologne and Phoenix in terms of classical appreciation.  It is not an easy task, but this report attempts to make the comparison fair and accurately.  In short, Europeans are much more willing to pay for cultural activities through taxes, whereas American organizations hope the locals will pick up the tab.

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