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Swiss tell EU: Hands off veterans' assault rifles

Swiss tell EU: Hands off veterans' assault rifles

Reuters

Friction between Switzerland and the European Union over the bloc's plans to tighten gun control following a rise in militant attacks could turn into another serious snag in ties already tested by Swiss efforts to curb immigration.

The proposed directive, which applies to non-EU member Switzerland only because it is part of Europe's Schengen open border system, has raised hackles among the Swiss, who resent intervention from Brussels.

Christoph Blocher, a leading voice of the Swiss right and a eurosceptic, says Switzerland should consider abandoning Europe's Schengen system of passport-free travel if the Swiss people rejected the proposed measures in a referendum.

Drafted after militants killed scores in attacks in Paris last year, the EU plans on gun control aimed to curb online weapons sales and impose more restrictions on assault weapons.

But the initial proposal provoked an outcry in Switzerland because it meant a ban on the long Swiss tradition of ex-soldiers keeping their assault rifles.

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