How to Buy a Gun in Switzerland

It often comes up in the gun control debate, but what do the Swiss actually have to go through to buy a handgun, rifle, shotgun, suppressor, or full-auto firearm? It's probably easier than you think.

You will often her people on both sides of the gun control debate bring up Switzerland in one way or another, mentioning that they have a high per capita rate of gun ownership and very low crime rates.

But what do citizens actually go through to purchase firearms in Switzerland, and what are they prohibited from purchasing?

For gun owners in the U.S., the exact length of your gun barrel, or the overall length of a given firearm, can mean the difference between compliance with the law and a committing a major felony.

So hearing that these things, along with collapsible stocks and such, are of no concern to the Swiss is a bit shocking.

As the narrator in the video above states, to purchase a firearm, one must obtain a form that looks, from what I can tell, quite a bit like the ATF 4473 Form, at least in function.

The form states you don’t have a criminal record and other basic info.

You send that in to the police and get it back in one or two weeks.

You can then head to your local gun shop and buy up to three firearms. There is no distinction between long guns and handguns—as the narrator says, a gun is a gun.

To many, this seems cumbersome, but for people in state’s like New Jersey where this is basically the process you must follow to buy a handgun, it doesn’t seem so bad—especially when you consider you can only purchase one handgun every 30 days in NJ, and you can expect your paperwork to be processed in the month to two month range, not a week or two.

There’s also no limits on quantity or type of ammunition you can purchase in Switzerland.

But for those into NFA items and suppressors, well that part is a lot easier.

There are a few restricted items in Switzerland, which the narrator calls “forbidden”—these include fully automatic firearms, suppressors, and laser sights, for some bizarre reason—all of which he has in his collection displayed in the vid, despite the moniker.

However, all you need to do to purchase these is fill out an additional form, send it in, and wait a couple weeks, just like the purchase form.

There’s no tax stamp to pay for, and you can actually buy a full-auto gun made in the past 20 years. In the U.S., any fully automatic firearms owned or purchased by a civilian has to have been made before 1986. This means that any full-auto firearm that available for purchase, even if you have the proper licensing and permits, is usually prohibitively expensive. Even something like a select fire MP5 can go for $10,000 - $20,000.

This permit is also good for other “forbidden” items like butterfly knives and slingshots, the narrator says.