Gunman kills 14 in Swiss assembly : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Gunman kills 14 in Swiss assembly. Ten people were injured, eight of them critically.

A gunman has gone on the rampage in a regional parliament in central Switzerland, killing at least 14 people before committing suicide. Ten others were injured when Friedrich Leibacher, 57, burst into the assembly session disguised as a police officer. He opened fire with an assault rifle and a pistol. Eight of them remain in a critical condition.

The attack took place at the regional parliament building in the town of Zug, 25 km (16 miles) south of Zurich, at 1030 (0830 GMT) on Thursday. Police say he detonated an explosive device before turning his gun on himself. Leibacher, who had been embroiled in a long-running dispute with the local authorities, left behind a confession note describing his actions as a "Day of rage for the Zug mafia".


Officials dived behind desks as Leibacher opened fire. Witnesses reported there was blood everywhere and one member of parliament compared it to an execution. "I was just outside the door of the parliament when he came in with a rifle, with several pistols and with what I think was a hand grenade," one eyewitness told Reuters news agency. "He started firing al around for several minutes. It was really terrible."

The guns used by Leibacher are standard issue weapons which Swiss nationals have to keep in case of call up.


Leibacher appears to have formed a grudge against local authorities after he became involved in a dispute with bus drivers and transport officials. One government official, Robert Bisig - who was a particular target of Leibacher's - told a press conference that a court had this week dismissed seven suits brought by Leibacher against the authorities. Leibacher is thought to have held Mr Bisig personally responsible for legal action which local transport authorities had brought against him.

The Swiss President Moritz Leuenberger has ordered all flags to fly at half mast for three days. The national parliament in Bern was suspended when deputies received the news.

Although violent crime is extremely rare in Switzerland, gun ownership is widespread due to the obligation to carry out military service and the popularity of shooting as a sport. There are only minimal controls at public buildings but the President of the House of Representatives, Peter Hess, has said that may now need to be reviewed.

-- Swissrose (, September 27, 2001


< Although violent crime is extremely rare in Switzerland, gun ownership is widespread... >

But not "concealed" carry (or "open" carry for that matter), evidently!

< He started firing all around **for several minutes** ... >

During which the gun-owning, but still disarmed, victims could do little but cower under their desks.


It will be interesting to see what happens to the Swiss firearms laws in the wake of this tragedy. In other countries (England & Australia for example), even single episodes of deranged individuals killing multiple unarmed victims have been the spark for dramatic restrictions... further disarming the populace. Switzerland has always seemed a special case. We'll see what happens.

-- Andre Weltman (, September 28, 2001.

Headline: Switzerland and the gun

Source: BBC News, 28 September 2001

URL: tm

Guns are deeply rooted within Swiss culture - but the gun crime rate is so low that statistics are not even kept.

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.

This is in a very large part due to Switzerland's unique system of national defence, developed over the centuries.

Instead of a standing, full-time army, the country requires every man to undergo some form of military training for a few days or weeks a year throughout most of their lives.

Between the ages of 21 and 32 men serve as frontline troops. They are given an M-57 assault rifle and 24 rounds of ammunition which they are required to keep at home.

Once discharged, men serve in the Swiss equivalent of the US National Guard, but still have to train occasionally and are given bolt rifles. Women do not have to own firearms, but are encouraged to.

Few restrictions

In addition to the government-provided arms, there are few restrictions on buying weapons. Some cantons restrict the carrying of firearms - others do not.

The government even sells off surplus weaponry to the general public when new equipment is introduced.

Guns and shooting are popular national pastimes. More than 200,000 Swiss attend national annual marksmanship competitions.

But despite the wide ownership and availability of guns, violent crime is extremely rare. There are only minimal controls at public buildings and politicians rarely have police protection.

Mark Eisenecker, a sociologist from the University of Zurich told BBC News Online that guns are "anchored" in Swiss society and that gun control is simply not an issue.

Some pro-gun groups argue that Switzerland proves their contention that there is not necessarily a link between the availability of guns and violent crime in society.

Low crime

But other commentators suggest that the reality is more complicated.

Switzerland is one of the world's richest countries, but has remained relatively isolated.

It has none of the social problems associated with gun crime seen in other industrialised countries like drugs or urban deprivation.

Despite the lack of rigid gun laws, firearms are strictly connected to a sense of collective responsibility.

From an early age Swiss men and women associate weaponry with being called to defend their country.

-- Andre Weltman (, September 28, 2001.

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