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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 21:41 GMT 22:41 UK
Swiss MPs put gun review on hold
By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Geneva

Corinne Rey-Bellet (centre) with her parents in 1997
Rey-Bellet was a star in Switzerland with a wide following
The Swiss parliament has decided not to vote on a motion which would ban the distribution of ammunition to soldiers in the Swiss army.

Every Swiss man has to serve in the army, which means that millions of assault rifles and ammunition are stored in homes across the country.

Switzerland has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world and a high rate of family killings.

However, parliamentarians say they need to know more to make a decision.

The decision will be a disappointment to the thousands of Swiss, especially women, who had been campaigning to get at least the bullets, if not the guns, out of Swiss homes - claiming the practice is outdated and dangerous.

Although they are not fired in conflict - neutral Switzerland has not been in a war for centuries - the guns are being used.

Insulting militiamen

The death earlier this year of the ski star, Corinne Rey-Bellet, shot by her estranged husband with his officer's pistol, caused public outrage.

The proposal to take ammunition out of the homes and store it in a central location where it could be distributed in an emergency seems sensible to many.

But parliament came under pressure from Switzerland's powerful gun lobby and from army supporters, who claimed taking the ammunition away would be an insult to Switzerland's thousands of militia soldiers.

Now the proposal has been sent back to the security committee for further scrutiny, effectively putting on hold a decision about a Swiss tradition which many believe should have died out years ago.

Domestic killings shock Swiss
09 May 06 |  Europe
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01 May 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Switzerland
26 Mar 06 |  Country profiles

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