Oddly enough, After spending an average of $9,000 per person on health care in the United States, we are ranked close to the bottom in nine areas of health that reduces our life expectancy: drug-related deaths, diabetes, heart and lung disease; obesity, teen pregnancies and infant mortality, sexually-transmitted infections and homicides. It’s no surprise. Switzerland has a universal health care insurance system. Health insurance is compulsory for all persons residing in Switzerland. Insurance companies are not allowed to make a profit off this basic insurance, but can on supplemental plans. Well, at least we are world leaders in nation-building, a dysfunctional government and massacres of children.
What’s even more noteworthy is Switzerland mandates gun ownership. Switzerland does not have a standing army. Men between the age of 20 and 30 are conscripted to serve in the people‘s militia for national defense. They are screened for physical and mental health conditions before attending boot camp for military and weapons training. They remain part of the "militia" in reserve capacity until age 30 (age 34 for officers). The personal weapons of the militia are kept at home as part of the military obligations. Switzerland has one of the highest militia gun ownership rates in the industrial world and one of the lowest homicide rates internationally.
The Swiss, with a population of 2.7 million, had 53 homicide cases reported in 2010, 40 involved firearms. The city of Chicago alone, with a population of almost 8 million, had 500 homicides, mostly involving guns during the same year.
Before 2007, members of the Swiss Militia were supplied with 50 rounds of ammunition in a sealed ammo box that was regularly audited in their homes by the government. Currently, only 2,000 specialist militia members are allowed to keep their military-issued ammunition at home. The rest of the militia get their ammunition from their military armory in the event of an emergency.
Conscription or military draft ended here in 1973, creating an all volunteer military force. It’s not a coincidence that since then, gang violence, illegal drug use and homicides involving guns have increased.
The Swiss have found the answer to good health and longevity with universal health care. They have also solved the problem of gun control: a conscription army and public policy allowing everyone to own guns and automatic weapons but keeping the ammunition locked up at an armory, or gun club for safety.
Banning assault weapons isn’t a new idea. In 1934, Illinois had passed a law banning the private use of machine guns. The National Firearms Act of 1934, that can be amended today, achieved the same purpose.
But times have changed. Now brave American assault weapon owners are pledging their allegiance to the NRA. Why don’t they just sign up to be a Marine. I know why — innocent children, unarmed spectators and defenseless wildlife can’t shoot back.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist