C1 Reading Exercise Piers Morgan at CES 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) ESL Reading Level: C1 (with German translation links provided through www.leo.org)
I was aghast! And at the same time, I knew I had to confess that the way Alex Jones Piers “flew off the handle” at Piers Morgan on gun control matters reminded me how I could allow my emotions to interfere with proper debate, too. Well, maybe never that vehemently – but still…
It was also ironic that Alex actually implied that Swiss and America’s gun control laws were similar since Switzerland, too, has a well-armed population. Unfortunately, they just shouldn’t be put in the same basket. Using statistics without cultural context is dangerous and can even be offensive if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
So what does make Switzerland different from America in this context? Let’s see why and how this peaceful, neutral European country has such a high number of gun owners per capita but has been compared improperly in the televised “debate”. At least, in my point of view. Swiss readers – please help me in correcting or adding facts to support or oppose my argument.
Let’s first turn to its history. Switzerland ‘s strategy for forming an armed militia back in the 180o’s, was to make sure that all able-bodied young men (Today: 20-34 years of age for non-officers) were militarily trained and allowed to keep a gun at their home for protection against foreign invasion. Pleae note the word: “foreign”. And to this day, this law is still in place.
Guns at home, you say? That sounds similar to the American policy. Yes, but – every year, when the off-duty militia reported to their 2-week army service, prior to 2007, they were not allowed to keep these guns at home loaded. To enforce this, they were required to bring in their guns along with their ammunition every year when reporting to their army unit and have all bullets accounted for. If you had lost a bullet, I’m not sure what would have happened but surely at least a hefty fine would have been collected. That is the Swiss way, if I may be so bold to say so.
Later, in 2007, a law in favor of stricter gun control was passed. Incidents of home/family killings and suicides had been on the rise and the public called for change. After all, it was no longer the 19th or 20th century. Laws can be amended to fit our changing world.
The new law required that all distributed army ammunition had to be returned to their army unit headquarters and relinquished. To date, 99% of all army ammunition has been returned and accounted for. And knowing how detail-oriented the Swiss are, I can trust this figure.
So what conclusion does this lead me to? Perhaps the USA could work on a Bullet Control Bill instead of changing the current Gun Control laws or Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights. Wouldn’t that somehow be an acceptable compromise? The right to bear arms would be respected, gun manufacturers could continue making their money but somehow local authorities could be responsible for limiting the number and types of bullets in use?
I think without people calmly discussing both sides of a matter, a creative compromise can never come about. Americans are great in finding win-win solutions, I have always thought, in business. Why not in politics? There is so much more to be said about this topic. But I leave this to you – my readers. Any comments to share? Any creative solutions to propose?
C1 Reading Exercise