THE EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE

So, we all hear about the Swiss Promised Land for gun owners. I want to share a few things I learned about Switzerland mostly, but also about the rest of Europe, from a nice, young, intelligent, and articulate citizen of Europe. It has been my impression for a number of years that European schools are better at preparing their students to be engaged in the world than ours are. That’s too bad for us. Those who fear the U.N. should read this, to get a little better idea about how Europeans think. It is not totally about guns, but a lot of it concerns firearms.

While this admittedly is information from only one person, how does that differ from any blog you read? I have rewritten it to preserve what I feel is the contextual intent of the original information I received:

If you’re interested, I can sum it up for you.

First of all, you must understand that the Swiss concept of the handling of guns is more a way of life, much like it is in the U.S. Most other Europeans cannot even intellectually grasp the concept of personal gun ownership. They would not have a clue as to why you would want to do this, or why it is necessary. But the Swiss grow up that way, much like you Americans do. It’s a cultural and political trademark of Switzerland.

As you surely know, Switzerland always maintains their neutrality. The exception to this was WWII. The Swiss claim they were neutral, but everyone knows that they hid gold stolen from the Jews by the Third Reich, in order to ensure their independence from Großdeutschland (Greater Germany, which is, Germany combined with annexed Austria).

Since they were neutral and rather small, they never had the chance to become a super-power as had countries such as Austria, France, England, Germany or Spain. Switzerland was surrounded by much stronger countries that could have taken the country over at any time they were in the mood to do it. Having Germany as a neighbor in particular can be very troublesome, because historically, Germany is known for over-reaction. (Trust me – I know this for a fact.)

The biggest difference between Switzerland and the U.S. is that the Swiss lack an organized military. There is no standing Swiss army – there is only a people’s army. The Swiss rely on self-defense and negotiated agreements to defend themselves, and they don’t need anything else, because they themselves never attack anyone. In WWII, they made arrangements with the Nazis to ensure their independence. Hitler’s government was allowed to hide their confiscated gold in the vaults in Bern, and the Swiss agreed not to allow any war refugees to seek shelter in their country. But the Swiss were brave enough and proud enough to take them in anyway, along a particular section of the Swiss-Austrian border.

But the Swiss still did not trust the Nazis. Because of their fear of the NS-Reich, they started to arm their citizens, and they never disarmed them afterwards. Many small Swiss towns have their own tanks, which are hidden in the mountains, and they build fake houses to hide these tanks in. The Kantons even have warplanes that have been imported from Sweden.

Unlike the U.S., the Swiss make sure that their young people know how to deal with weapons. Almost every young person goes into the Rekrutenschule (recruits’ school, or military academy). This means that everybody goes through military training at some point in their lives, usually at about 20 years of age.

In Switzerland you also need a Waffenerwerbsschein (weapons acquisition document, or gun purchasing permit). This contrasts with the German system, where you have to have more than one license for other arms. With a Waffenerwerbsschein, you are allowed to own three weapons of your choice. That may not seem like much to Americans, I guess, but this is a very lax and careless system when judged by the overall European standards.

Now, of you want to carry your weapons around on your person, you have to keep the weapon and the ammunition separated, and the weapon has to be carried so that it is visible. No loaded, concealed weapons are allowed.

These are actually the most important things you need to know. I will look up and attach some articles for you to read about it.

BTW – I’m not Swiss. I just pointed all of this out to you because it was all over the European media. I’m from the crazy rest of Europe. Well, I love Switzerland, too. I’ve been there, and it’s a wonderful country, and the people are very nice. They are the nicest German-speaking people you can find in Europe, except maybe for the northern Italians. Swiss-German and German are mainly the same, but the Swiss have a different way to spell things, and they often use terms of endearments, unlike most other German-speaking groups.

The economy is actually not all that good there right now, because of the financial crisis. The Swiss government created an artificial inflation to erase the debt, and they all are suffering from it. But they’ll get over it. No one is stronger than Switzerland. And the strength of Switzerland lies in its neutrality. Even though Austria and Germany often complain about that.

Hitler didn’t take control of Germany through registration and confiscation. The gun prohibition initially was meant to limit the power of the Nazis and the Communists. The Weimar Republic just didn’t have the means to enforce these laws. Hitler just “invented” the Entwaffnungsgesetz (Disarmament law). Which meant in reality that he took all of the weapons from the JEWISH households. He didn’t mind the rest of the Germans and Austrians having them. Its bullshit, what all the Republicans say. Of course, Hitler didn’t want the Communists and the Resistance to be armed either, but he just had them all beaten up.

I can imagine that Nuremberg still smelled of burnt flesh when your father visited it. I’ve been to Auschwitz, and you’re still not allowed to light candles in the areas where there still is gas. I hate this part of history. Although it is important to know about all of this violence, as it just proves to me how weak humans really are.

Now Obama may have made a lot of mistakes, but many Europeans are very bored by the whole Merkel vs. Hollande vs. Monti vs. Cameron kindergarten antics. It’s troublesome, and many smaller countries are neglected. The problem with Europe is actually that every country is a country before it is European. You don’t say, “I’m European – you are French, or German, or Polish, or whatever. No one group really cares for the others, and our politicians are always fighting.

BTW – did you know that Obama would have gotten 90% of the popular vote, if the last U.S. election had been held in the EU? –Funny fact. It always makes me smile, that he almost lost in the U.S. Obama is like Ritalin for us. He’s smiling, which is something Merkel never does. He isn’t corrupt, and isn’t sleeping around, like Monti used to. He sticks up for what he believes in, which Cameron doesn’t. And, he isn’t a Communist, like Hollande is. So, we Europeans like him.

The small countries aren’t so much the problem. Luxemburg is fine, Liechtenstein (which is European, but not EU) has the highest per capita GDP in the world, and the Vatican attracts many visitors. It is the East that is the problem. The Communists destroyed it, and it has to be rebuilt. The Germans especially complain about that, because they still have to rebuild East Germany, and try to get over the Cold War separation. On the other hand, some of what they say is exaggerated.

Of course, Germany wanted to be united. How would you feel if your country was occupied and cut into two, and one half became Communist? I can’t imagine what that would be like. And, after forty years of this separation, West Germany and East Germany developed two very different cultures. Germans have always been susceptible to ideology. As an example, the Russians had to CONVINCE the East Germans to open the Berlin Wall, and that is for only for one day. Today, there are still many Communists in East Germany, and the West Germans are angry about that. But I think that, deep down inside, most of the German people are very happy about their reunification. Nagging and complaining is a national sport there. It’s just the money issue that is the most bothersome. The East Germans think they need more help with rebuilding themselves, and the West Germans want to build up every part of Germany that isn’t doing so well, all at the same time. It’s a big dispute. But, it’s getting better, because my generation doesn’t really mind the “new states”.

As I said, I visited Poland once, and it’s a very beautiful country, and everything looks fine. I loved it there, because the Polish are very nice. But there is nothing like the people back home.

I found some English-language articles on guns in Switzerland for you:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/mythbusting-israel-and-switzerland-are-not-gun-toting-utopias

http://www.businessinsider.com/switzerlands-gun-laws-are-a-red-herring-2012-12

Search this for more information:

Mythbusting: Israel and Switzerland are not gun-toting utopias

These are more positive ones:

The Swiss Difference: A Gun Culture That Works

http://www.guncite.com/swissgun-kopel.html

The first two obscure certain facts. You will need to make up your own mind, though.

Pleasant dreams, America.

Gary W. Harper

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