Every single day I either get a viral email or see several Facebook posts that are misleading or false. I TRY to hit delete or ignore these posts, because I get tired of confronting friends and family members who won’t change their minds even when presented with unmitigated facts to disprove their thoughtless, unconfirmed claims. This is very difficult, because I have a terrible compulsion to correct people. This blog has served to protect my fragile relationships with friends and family who are one ignorant comment away from being verbally lashed. I believe that as therapy, I shall periodically choose one of these emails or Facebook posts to address. Here’s the first one I saw today:

WHAT AMERICA CAN LEARN FROM SWITZERLAND

Not quite accurate: Switzerland issues a gun to every able-bodied male, who must serve in their military reserves (sometimes till aged 50) or be taxed 3% of gross income if unfit for service. Females may volunteer to serve. Distribution of ammunition for said weapons is tightly regulated and may only be used in cases of war/civil defense (being a neutral country, there is no war). These conscripts are trained and required to keep their personal weapon well-maintained and secure. Gun ownership for private citizens not serving in the militia is regulated with common-sense laws that would make the gun lobby of the US shudder with revulsion.

Comparing gun ownership and crime statistics is pointless if one does not also assess the differences between the two countries. Here in the United States, we are not required to serve in the military or do any type of civil service.  Nearly everyone can own a weapon and carry it around. Most states have no requirement that a gun owner even know how to operate their weapon or be educated in gun safety. A quick Google search offers a generous sample of people who injure themselves or others accidentally with their own weapon.

Although Switzerland does have a lower gun-related crime rate compared to the US, it is not the lowest in the world, even among nations where gun ownership is legal. The reason that gun advocates cite this statistic is to imply that since everyone owns a gun, criminals are afraid to use them. This is patently ridiculous, especially given the knowledge that concealed carry permits are highly regulated in Switzerland, usually given only to military and security officers. Permit applicants must state a reason for the need of the weapon and are required to pass an exam demonstrating fitness to own and carry the weapon. The permit expires after five years and applies only to the type of firearm specified in the permit. All gun owners must pass a criminal background check and have no known mental health issues or security concerns. Purchases of ammunition are recorded by name at point of sale in a bound book. Ammo for long rifles used for hunting are not regulated or recorded. Semi-automatic weapons are very tightly regulated.

The gun-related death rate is eight times higher in the United states than that of our economic counterparts in the world, with the highest youth death rate and the highest gun-suicide rate of all industrialized nations. We are also tops for gun ownership in the entire world, of course, without peer. The only nations that outpace our gun violence rates are war-torn or severely economically depressed nations with horrifying statistics on civil rights and poverty.

Some additional comparisons that you may find interesting: Switzerland has universal (and mandatory) healthcare coverage, a very low poverty rate, 3% unemployment rate, and virtually no homelessness-all factors that contribute to the crime rate in the USA. Switzerland also has one of the lowest marginal tax rates in the world, with a stable economy and one of highest per capita income rates in the world. The banking sector thrives because of the nation’s neutrality and sovereignty, as Mitt Romney knows well.  They are also skinnier than we are, damn it! “What America can learn from Switzerland” is a LOT!

If you come across an questionable email or post and would like help debunking or proving a claim, please pass it along to me. I will do my best to research it. I know it probably won’t change a lot of minds, but arming one’s self with facts is key to being a well-informed voter and citizen. Oh, and I haven’t paid much attention to my official Facebook BrabbleRabble page yet, but I would really appreciate your “likes” and/or shares. Apparently, something happens when I get 30 of them, and I’m curious. I need 21 more followers to unlock these secrets;)

46 thoughts on “Debunking Viral Emails and Facebook Posts 1: Swiss Gun Ownership

  1. THANK you for this post, I shall reblog it ASAP. You are a lot like me, facts & truth matter the whole world.

    1. Wasn’t sure how to let you know that I used your information on Yahoo comments. One person said we should be like Switzerland and issue guns and training to everyone over 18. The same issue you addressed here in 2012. I listed the website address. Hope this is okay with you.

  2. Excellent article and reposting. They are skinnier maybe because they don’t allow GMO seeds and food in their country…or as many toxins. Quality of food makes a big difference in our health.

  3. I can’t express how damned sick I am of seeing this over and over – and over!

    Why Smash Chain Letters? The Mission
    chainsmashers . mixxt . com / networks / content / index . Why%20Smash%20Chain%20Letters_%20The%20Mission

  4. Thanks for your efforts. You have to be zealous to dig for the real story on the Internet. There is so much misinformation out there, it is a spin-doctor’s wet dream. Why bother with facts, since no one will pay attention any way. Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” is painfully accurate. With all of this said, we need our “Truthseekers” and you are one. We need to tell as many people who will listen. Well done.

  5. Outstanding piece. I also find myself referring some of my more gullible and/or ignorant friends and relatives to the appropriate Scopes entry with alarming frequency. More often, I just hit the delete key and get on with my life…pearls before swine and all that. Like some of your other commenters, I’m going to repost your piece in my blog (leftrightandcentered.com). Feel free to do the same if you ever think my mad musings merit wider dispersal.

  6. I am sure NRA will be very excited to have a Swiss-like system of nearly mandatory gun ownership but with tightly regulated ammunition sales. After all, the 2nd amendment only mentions “the right to bear arms”, and says nothing of a right to bear ammunition.

  7. This was a FABULOUS post. I love all of your this one really hit home. I am so tired to of all the incredibly stupid and unfounded claims that people make. I mean, seriously, hasn’t anyone ever heard of google? Or fact checking? I will re-blog, tweet, and FB this post. Somebody needs to put the smack down on this type of thing. I can’t wait to read more of these.

  8. I think the statement of taxes is quite misleading. While the highest federal rate is only slightly below 12% there are many items that might not be called taxes but are. You add their version of state/city/local tax, mandatory health insurance, social security, net wealth tax and you have quite high taxes. Now add a value added tax to nearly everything (which is not the same as sales tax) and you items for daily life can become quite expensive.

    1. That is certainly a debatable point, but I am surprised that is what you took issue with in a post about gun ownership in Switzerland. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  9. A favorite site for me, one many of my “friends” dislike, is snopes.com. A great place to debunk many of the absurd statements that fly around the Internet as truths. Great post.

    1. Valerie, interesting article, thanks so much. This deportation petition is ridiculous! Maybe they think since he is not an American citizen he has no rights?

  10. Thanks Amaya. Two statistics I like to share are the US has 80% of the gun deaths when compared to the top 23 wealthiest nations and 87% of the children and teen gun deaths. I would cite those statistics and ask “proud” gun owners how do they feel about that? Bill Maher said last night, I am a gun owner, but I am not proud of it. Thanks for pushing this at personal expense. BTG

  11. Outstanding piece. The sad fact of the matter is that when all is said and done, the lunatics who seem to be running our asylum will see to it that there are no substantial changes in our gun laws. I hate to agree with anyone on the Right, but it is an unavoidable fact that with something like 250 million guns already owned by Americans, nothing short of martial law could ever put a dent in our staggering national fire power. We can compare ourselves to the Australians, the Japanese, the British, and the Swiss all we want, and we’ll still probably never answer the central question: What are Americans so angry about that we find it necessary to settle so many disputes at the barrel of a gun?

  12. “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”
    – George Washington

  13. Actually, yes there is a lot of misinformation about Swiss gun ownership… But there is a lot of misinfo in this blog post as well.

  14. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. That is an extremely smartly written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

  15. Hi there! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Gun violence and gun injury is only a [art of the story; a better measure is rate of violent crime of any kind….If you focus totally on gun violence then you ignore violence that occurs because of the perceived lack of a firearm for defense of the victim…A ball bat can injure or kill as effectively as any gun.

  17. Terrific post! People believe what they want to believe and listen only to those who agree with them. This is becoming the central issue facing our democracy — and not just on the gun issue. Democracies requite an open-minded, educated, and well informed citizenry. We are headed the other way. I sometimes suspect that our democratic system is a failed experiment, though the Swiss seem to have worked it out!

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