27 February 2013
Amoklauf in Switzerland: 27 February 2013
Occasionally the world gives us sad reminders that mass shootings at workplaces, among other locations, are not a peculiarly American phenomenon. Switzerland has seen its second mass shooting this year, two victims dying this time along with the shooter while seven others were injured. This was a workplace shooting, possibly motivated by expected layoffs -- a reminder that work issues were once the stereotypical cause for someone "going postal." According to this British account, the apparent shooter experienced some mental or psychological deterioration recently that may be the proximate cause of today's violence. Switzerland would seem to be an NRA utopia. It depends upon militias rather than a standing army for its defense, though thanks to its famous neutrality it has no great need for national defense. Voters recently rejected greater gun control in a national referendum, and militia members keep their weapons at home. The country's worst mass shooting took place in 2001, when a nut opened fire on his local [canton] legislature and killed 14 people. In general, widespread gun ownership in Switzerland creates a greater risk of suicide than mass shootings, but two a year (the other killed three people in January) may be too many for some Swiss. Opposition to gun control fears for the future of the country's militia tradition, but it's unclear whether new regulations would compel the country to adopt a standing army. For an outsider, it's more unclear whether the Swiss see their militia as a bulwark against domestic tyranny, or if any defend it with the same paranoid vehemence familiar to Americans. The repercussions of this latest amoklauf should be interesting to see and may be instructive to the rest of us.