Of course, a pistol doesn’t fire by itself. However, from a criminological point of view, it is too easy to consider only the human motives more closely. Defending yourself with your hands and feet or attacking someone with your fists and kicks requires far more skills and assertiveness than pulling the trigger of a weapon!
The legislation also takes this into account by not allowing weapons for sale and also by regulating how they are handled. Here are the most important things are explained in the following 14 questions.
1. What Is a Weapon?
According to the law, firearms, compressed air guns, CO2 guns, imitation guns, alarm guns and airsoft guns as well as electric shock devices and all devices intended to injure or kill people are considered weapons. This includes certain knives, daggers and spray products. Violations of the weapons law are prosecuted by the police and punished by the judiciary.
2. Which Weapons Are Prohibited?
The legislature prohibits certain weapons and objects that serve the sole purpose of injuring or killing people, such as brass knuckles or a butterfly knife. In principle, there are no weapons carrying permits for prohibited weapons.
3. At What Age Can a Gun Be Purchased?
Weapons can be purchased from the age of 18. A gift or inheritance is also considered an acquisition.
4. Can One Carry Weapons in Public Spaces Without Restrictions?
If you want to carry a weapon in public places, you need an official weapon permit. Carrying a weapon in a backpack or in a car without authorization is also considered to be “carrying a weapon”.
5. What Do You Have to Consider When Transporting a Weapon?
Weapons may only be transported directly from the storage location to the legitimate place of use. Examples of legitimate places of use are shooting ranges, hunting grounds or gun shops.
6. What Is the Best Way to Store a Weapon?
Weapons must be stored carefully and protected against access by unauthorized third parties. Any loss of a weapon must be reported to the police immediately. A lockable gun cabinet is recommended for safe storage.
7. What Is Meant by Dangerous Objects?
Tools and household and sports equipment (e.g. a kitchen knife or a baseball bat) that are suitable for threatening or injuring people are not weapons, but are considered dangerous objects.
8. What Else Do You Have to Consider in Connection With Dangerous Objects?
The improper carrying and entrainment of dangerous objects on oneself or in a vehicle is prohibited.
9. How Are Toy Guns Different From Actual Firearms?
Toy pistols and rifles must be clearly distinguishable from real firearms by their transparency or visual appearance.
10. Can You Buy or Sell Weapons Abroad? Import?
When buying a gun or ammunition abroad or in a foreign online shop, the gun laws of the respective country apply. Imports, on the other hand, require a permit from the Central Weapons Office, which must be obtained in advance. What is freely available abroad is far from being allowed in Switzerland.
11. What Are the Penalties for Illegal Use of Airsoft Guns?
- Anyone who offers, transfers, brokers, acquires, owns, manufactures, commercially repairs, modifies, carries or brings weapons into Swiss territory without authorization can be punished with imprisonment for up to three years or a fine.
- If the perpetrator acts negligently, the penalty is a fine. In minor cases, punishment can be waived.
- A person who fails to comply with due diligence requirements when transferring weapons, imports weapons without a permit, fails to report the loss of a weapon to the police, or uses prohibited forms of offering is liable to a fine of infraction.
12. What Do I Have to Consider When Exporting and Importing Imitation Weapons?
- Anyone wishing to bring such weapons into Swiss territory privately requires a permit. Applications for the non-commercial import of weapons can be found at fedpol.
- A permit under the Goods Control Act is required for private, definitive export. This is issued by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO .
- Anyone wishing to import or export such weapons into or out of Switzerland on a commercial basis requires a weapons trading license for non-firearms and a corresponding permit.
13. What Happens if I Use a Soft Air Gun or a Knock-off Gun Against the Law?
- Weapons that are carried without permission, for example by minors or in public places, can be confiscated by the responsible authorities.
- If it can be shown that there is a risk of misuse, especially if the weapon was used to threaten or injure people, the weapon can definitely be confiscated.
14. As a Minor, Can I Borrow Imitation Weapons for Training and Competitions?
- Soft-air guns may be loaned to minors as sporting weapons if the minor can prove that he or she regularly participates in shooting sports, cannot be assumed to endanger themselves or third parties with the weapon and is not entered in the criminal record.
- A soft-air weapon is considered a sporting weapon if the corresponding model is approved for national or international competitions.
- The legal representative of the minor or the club must report the loan to the cantonal weapons office within 30 days using the appropriate form.
Soft Air Guns / Imitation Guns
Soft air guns and other imitation guns have been available on the market as trend toys for children, young people and adults (keyword “Gotcha” or “Paintball”) for several years. These weapons use rubber or paint cartridges as ammunition, which poses a risk of injury, especially to the eyes.
With proper handling, however, accidents can be avoided. Much more serious, however, are the dangers that result from mixing up such weapons. The special problem with soft air guns is that even experts cannot distinguish them from real firearms, or only with difficulty. Domestic and international incidents show that a direct confrontation with a perpetrator using airsoft guns can have dire consequences.
When imitation weapons are used for threat purposes, even with playful intent, it can have serious consequences. In the spell of the threat, a person cannot judge the weapon as harmless. She therefore reacts instinctively the same way as if she were being threatened with a real firearm. With regard to the threat effect, the imitation weapons are therefore to be equated with a real weapon.
Airsoft guns are not toys. Since January 1, 2009, the new Weapons Act has therefore regulated the use of soft air guns and other imitation weapons. According to Art. 4 of the Weapons Act (WG), soft-air weapons are considered a weapon that must be reported if there is a risk of confusion with a firearm.