Can you name the country with the lowest violent crime rate in the world? Perhaps a tyrannical regime in which the people are ruled with an iron fist and fear any reprisal from violence? A strong police state nation in which crime is simply not tolerated? You may be surprised to learn it is a country that doesn’t even have a full-time standing army. Yes, it’s Switzerland.
Why is this the case? Because Swiss citizens are well-armed and well-trained in how to use their weapons. From a BBC report which you can read here, comes this statement.
The country has a population of six million, but there are estimated to be at least two million publicly-owned firearms, including about 600,000 automatic rifles and 500,000 pistols
Every male Swiss citizen serves in the military for a short time each year for the better part of their lives. They keep their rifles at home. Women are encouraged to own a firearm, but not required. The point is that deterrence works wonders. Gun crime rates are so low that statistics aren’t even kept.
Of course, the gun debate is not so black and white as to tie gun availability to the violent crime rate. Society has a host of other ills such as drugs, gang violence, poverty, etc. that all contribute to the propensity toward violence. America is unique in its position relating to guns and violence. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world. Over two million incarcerated at a rate of over 700 inmates per 100,000 population. We also have approx. 90 guns per every 100 people, twice that of Switzerland. Switzerland doesn’t suffer from the same societal ills as us either.
What to make of it? Is the 2nd Amendment the answer? More guns? Less guns? More laws? Clearly, the last one is not the answer. We have far too many as it is and the argument for them is ludicrous. As the saying goes, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Criminals aren’t deterred by laws, they are deterred by the thought of catching lead themselves. People under the influence of drugs care neither about laws or deterrence, so the gun debate is essentially moot in their case.
As America moves ever closer to a full-blown police state, this debate is sure to grow even more contentious. Our approach has failed. We have plenty of laws. We have plenty of guns. We have plenty of inmates. America itself has been declared a battlefield in the war against terrorism. Our military hardware is being used to monitor us with the drone program. The TSA is just farcical.
On the part of the citizens, we would be well-served to adopt the culture of the Swiss. Guns are a very normal part of their lives. The citizens are self-reliant and not dependent upon a police state mentality in which to protect them. Potential criminals are well-aware of the hazard they face in knowing the citizenry is armed and trained to use them.
Of course, Switzerland and the U.S. are worlds apart in that we are the world’s policeman and the Swiss are famously neutral. We have, without question, the finest military in the world. Yet, as a citizenry, we are woefully inadequate. I’m not advocating a draft for all. We don’t need a military 300+ million strong. However, in the context of protection from violent crime, drugs, our porous border and the like, I for one would see the Swiss approach of trained and armed citizens as strengthening our liberty. Certainly, a few days per year is time well spent when it comes to self-protection. Not to mention the benefit of an armed and trained citizenry in opposing an over-bearing central government.
We don’t have to wonder if this approach would work as a deterrent to violence. The Swiss have already conducted the test for us. Conscription, or compulsory military service, would never sell here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. However, the gun culture would be the best crime fighting tool we could ever implement. A program to train a citizen and provide the weapon to take home would be tax dollars much better spent in the interest of fighting crime than the dollars we spend on public safety today. After all, liberty is all about self-reliance and accountability. Empowering the people to protect themselves and not relying upon the government makes perfect sense. I’d gladly vote to see my tax dollars utilized for a program like that, how about you?