A Gun in every home
– a lesson down on the farm and a Swiss joke
Following the Dunblane massacre in 1996 when a teacher and sixteen school children were shot by a lone gunman, extremely severe restrictions were introduced on the possession and use of pistols and rifles in the UK. Legitimate owners of guns found it much more difficult to use guns, even though they were responsible and very careful. They complained that criminals would simply ignore legislation and continue as before. Because of these severe restrictions even the national shooting team found that it could not train properly at home. They were have to train overseas; it was to Switzerland that they took themselves.
Not long afterwards my wife and I set off to Switzerland, to teach. Among early conversations there I raised the matter of gun ownership and gun security and reminded new Swiss friends about these restrictions, at which they laughed. Every Swiss man of military age, between eighteen and fort-five or so, keeps at home a rifle and two packs of ammunition. These ammunition packs are presented for inspection twice a year and improper use is unknown.
I am sure that most British men, and women, spend their entire lives without handling or firing a weapon. However, at the age of fourteen, I was keen to try out a shotgun while on holiday on a farm and my uncle provided an opportunity which demonstrated just how deadly and destructive they can be. Two young farm cates were suffering very badly with cat flu and needed to be put down. A blow on the head from a hammer or a lump of wood would have provided an instant end to their suffering but instead I was given a .410 shot gun and told to despatch them, which I did once I had placed them in a hole in the garden from which they could not climb out.
Suddenly it was very clear to me why guns should not be played with or left with untrained people, and especially not with criminals, and I was keen to bury the cats’ blasted torsos as quickly as possible.
In Switzerland there is a joke; why do Swiss men never use their army-issue rifles to commit suicide? Because if they did the army would charge their widows for the bullets.
Plus What happened in the UK to start this story?
Plus Why do you think the Swiss were amused when they heard that the British shooting team was going to train in their country?
What happened in the UK to start this story?
Why do you think the Swiss were amused when they heard that the British shooting team was going to train in their country?