Posted by: konradbaumgarten | July 5, 2011

Some info on Swiss gun law

Here’s some information on gun legislation in Switzerland I was asked via email. The questions are in bold and the answers are just below.

•Non-lethal defensive devices like pepper spray are allowed in most Cantons or are being deregulated in the rest.
Regulation on “weapons” is a federal matter only (since 1999). Pursuant to the 1999 federal weapons act pepper sprays are generally allowed as they are not classified as “weapons”. They might be taken away from you though in certain places (government buildings, night clubs etc).

•Handguns licenses are easily obtained (must issue) or not even required in most or all Cantons.
There are only two kind of licences: licence to acquire and licence to carry. No licence is required to own/possess a gun. Licence to acquire is quite straightforward to obtain if you have no criminal record. Licence to carry is almost impossible to obtain for normal law-abiding persons. Thus you need to hire armed security personnel if you want personal protection outside you home.

•Handguns can be carried concealed in about ½ the Cantons with an easily obtained license (or is often no license required?).
See above; I presume this stems from the era before the federal weapons act of 1999 when there were indeed very different practices around.

•Ammunition is still sold by the government at ranges for a discount.
Yes, true if you use them on the government ranges, and only valid for ordinance ammo (i.e. 9mm para, 5.56mm, 7.5mm Swiss).

•Ammunition can (or must) still be stored at home for the Army rifles  and pistols. (I have read a few things that said that this is no longer allowed as of 2007, but I thought a Swiss person told me in 2008 he has his Army ammo at home.)
Until recently servicemen were also issued a box of ammo for their personal army weapon. This has unfortunately been repelled in an effort to comply with anti-gun lobbies / in order to weaken their argument of public safety concerns.


  1. How easily can a foreigner shoot in Switzerland. In my case, I’m an American who will soon live in Germany. If I visit Switzerland, I’d want to go to a range, rent some guns and shoot. By this I mean rent guns such as a Glock or AR15 etc. Not stupid custom target guns. And I’d want to shoot at silhouette shaped targets (illegal in Germany for example).

    Is this possible in Switzerland? It’s sure not in Germany. And as a foreigner coudl I just come in, show my ID (or passport), rent the guns and go shoot? Or is there some requirement like training, permit, license etc? Thanks a lot!

  2. Chirol has a good question! The next time I visit Switzerland I would want to visit a schutzverein and shoot with the Swiss marksmen. That might prove embarassing for me, but that is a risk I am willing to take.

  3. Wow, is that true- that you can’t carry a gun in Switzerland, without a licence that’s really difficult to obtain?

    I could have been certain that I’d come across something on wikipedia that said most cantons don’t even require licences to carry :O.

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