Svizzeri sono armatissimi e liberissimi (The Swiss are the most armed and the most free) –
Machiavelli, “The Prince”
The Swiss people decisively voted down a sweeping anti-gun proposal this February. The nation’s defense is based on a citizen-militia, whose soldiers keep their rifles at home and who have the option to keep their service rifle after their term of service. The referendum would have required storage of firearms at secure army-run arsenals, and to some observers, more troubling, would have established a national firearms registry and licensing system. In addition, the new law would have prohibited civilian sales of military-style rifles and pump shotguns.
Based on early polling, the measure looked like it would pass handily, but it went down by well over 56 percent. Vote results highlighted the rural-urban divide, as well as the contrast between German-speaking and French-speaking regions. The rural central cantons turned in overwhelming no votes, some as high as 75 percent, while cantons containing major cities, especially those bordering France, such as Geneva, voted for the measure by over 60 percent.
Backers of the anti-gun proposal concentrated their arguments on suicide rates – always carefully referencing “gun suicides.” Such statistics are intentionally misleading. Overall Swiss suicide rates are exactly in line with those of neighboring Germany and France, but because guns are more readily available in Switzerland, a higher percentage of people who commit suicide use guns. Studies have shown that people seriously intent on suicide almost always achieve their goal, regardless of the method they choose.
My brother Chris Knox was interviewed by www.swissinfo.ch, a Swiss news website a few days before the vote. The story appeared the day after the election. Chris cited our late father Neal Knox’s long-held admiration of Switzerland’s tradition of being peaceably, but formidably armed and pointed out that gun registration historically leads to more restrictions and gun bans while crime rates inevitably rise.
To the Swiss people, I say congratulations on defeating the anti-gun initiative. But watch out! History shows that the gun banners will be back. Switzerland’s tradition of a citizen militia depends on vigilance. I’m hopeful that when the descendants of William Tell again face government overstepping its bounds, the Swiss people will again push the beast back into its harness.
Another group that is famous for its voting tradition is the National Rifle Association. NRA Life and 5-year members will cast their ballots for 1/3 of the NRA Board of Directors over the next two months.
Each year 25 of the 75 regular director seats comes up for election to 3-year terms along with the 76th director, who voters attending the Annual Meeting select for a one-year term.
There is little chance of any injection of new blood in this year’s election. The candidate list is a bit larger than usual, but it includes 26 incumbent directors, including the current 76th director, vying for the 25 seats. The Nominating Committee nominated all 25 of the current 3-year directors plus an additional 6 candidates. There were 6 more candidates nominated exclusively by petition of the members. Historically we can expect that at least 23 of the 25 incumbents will win reelection. Since the NRA uses a cumulative total election – the 25 highest total vote getters win – the real race is always between candidates at the bottom of the list.
The fact that the committee nominated actor Erik Estrada and members tapped actor and retired Marine Corps NCO R. Lee “Gunny” Ermey, does add some spice to the campaign. Another interesting tidbit is the Nominating Committee’s refusal to nominate the current 76th director and perennial candidate, Steve Schreiner – again. Schreiner has run repeatedly for several years. Each time the Nominating Committee has snubbed him, and he has fallen short of the cut. As the next highest vote recipient, however, he has at least twice finished out a term after a death or resignation from the Board, as he is doing currently after the death of long-time Board member Donn DiBiasio.
Among the remaining candidates there are several retired officers and military shooters and several local/state activists, but with two celebrities, a sprinkling of politicians and 26 incumbents vying for the 25 seats, it is unlikely that any of the newcomers has any chance at all.
The Firearms Coalition usually endorses a handful of candidates and always advocates voting for only those candidates and no more, but this year the organization is only offering one endorsement: Linda Walker of Ohio. While all of the other candidates seem very qualified, there is only a slight chance of getting maybe one new person on the Board this year, and Linda Walker is the one we think would be best. We encourage NRA voters to mark their ballots for Linda Walker and only Linda Walker, because every other name you mark reduces the chances of Linda Walker being elected. Linda will need at least 65,000 bullet votes to have a chance at a seat.
With only about 7 percent of eligible NRA voters actually casting ballots in any given election, it should be relatively easy to find an extra few thousand votes, but when faced with such overwhelming apathy, finding those votes is much easier said than done.
And, speaking of voting, legislation has been introduced to breach the Obama administration’s blockade against American-made collectible M1 rifles and Carbines from Korea. Last year the Obama administration agreed to allow U.S. importers to buy a large number of U.S.-made M1 Garands and Carbines from Korea for sale in the U.S. The deal was halted by Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the BATFE, through use of this administration’s standard operating procedure – redefining regulations.
Contact your senators and representatives asking that they cosponsor and actively support the Collectible Firearms Protection Act, S.381 and H.R.615.