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Thu Feb 7, 2013, 03:31 PM

In aftermath of Swiss shooting, echoes of U.S. gun-control debate


DAILLON, Switzerland — On Jan. 3, the day Sandy Hook Elementary students returned to school in Newtown, Conn., Florian Berthouzoz leaned out his window and opened fire on this tranquil Swiss village with an old military carbine and a 12-gauge shotgun.

By the time he finished shooting, three women were killed, apparently at random, two men were wounded and Berthouzoz was brought down by a police officer’s bullet in the chest..

The shooting at Daillon, on a steep slope in snow-covered Alpine foothills about 50 miles southeast of Lausanne, shocked the Swiss people because it seemed so senseless. It immediately revived their perennial debate over the danger posed by large numbers of unregistered weapons in private hands and the tradition of off-duty soldiers storing their guns at home in a closet.

The Swiss debate has closely resembled the arms-control controversy that boiled up in the United States after the Newtown killings. Liberal Swiss politicians, following a script shared by American colleagues, have vowed to push for new restrictions. Their conservative opponents have maintained that more laws would do nothing to prevent such shooting sprees.


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