Conditions under the 1999 Gun Act
To purchase a firearm in a commercial shop, one needs to have a Waffenerwerbsschein (weapon acquisition permit). A permit allows the purchase of three firearms. Everyone over the age of 18 who is not psychiatrically disqualified (such as having had a history of endangering his own life or the lives of others) or identified as posing security problems, and who has a clean criminal record (requires a Criminal Records Bureau check) can request such a permit.[better source needed]
To buy a gun from an individual, no permit is needed, but the seller is expected to establish a reasonable certainty that the purchaser will fulfill the above-mentioned conditions (usually done through a Criminal Records Bureau check). The participants in such a transaction are required to prepare a written contract detailing the identities of both vendor and purchaser, the weapon's type, manufacturer, and serial number. The law requires the written contract to be kept for ten years by the buyer and seller. The seller is also required to see some official ID from the purchaser, for such sales are only allowed to Swiss nationals and foreigners with a valid residence permit, with the exception of those foreigners that come from certain countries (Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Albania, Algeria), to whom such sales are not allowed even if they do have a residence permit. Foreigners without a residence permit must ask for Waffenerwerbsschein (weapon acquisition permit). [better source needed]
After turning 18, any individual can buy singleshot or bolt-action long arms (breech-loading or muzzle-loading) without a permit (so-called "free arms"). Likewise, members of a recognized rifle association do not need a buying permit for purchasing antique repeaters, and hunters do not need one for buying typical hunting rifles.
Basically, the sale of automatic firearms, selective fire weapons and certain accessories such as sound suppressors ("silencers") is forbidden (as is the sale of certain disabled automatic firearms which have been identified as easily restored to fully automatic capability). The purchase of such items is however legal with a special permit issued by cantonal police. The issuance of such a permit requires additional requirements to be met, e.g. the possession of a specific gun locker.
Most types of ammunition are available for commercial sale, including full metal jacket bullet calibres for military-issue weapons; hollow point rounds are only permitted for hunters. Ammunition sales are registered only at the point of sale by recording the buyer's name in a bound book.
Semi-automatic weapons are legal to purchase with a permit.
Changes due to the Schengen treaty[edit source | editbeta]
The rules laid out above were changed on 1 December 2008 as Switzerland joined the Schengen treaty; and all member countries must adapt some of their laws to a common standard. Following the draft of the Swiss government for the new Waffengesetz (weapons law), these points will change:
Unlawful possession of guns will be punished.
Gun trade among individuals will require a valid weapon acquisition permit. Weapons acquired from an individual in the last ten years (which did not require a weapon acquisition permit) have to be registered. As a central weapons register was politically unfeasible, the authorities hope to get an overview of the market through this registration requirement.
Every gun must be marked with a registered serial number.
Airsoft guns and imitations of real guns will also be governed by the new law.
While the above mentioned "free arms" remain exempt from the weapon acquisition permit, the vendor is required to notify the local arms bureau of the sale.
Storage of military-issued ammunition by militia members
Ready ammunition of the Swiss Army. Soldiers equipped with the Sig 550 assault rifle used to be issued 50 rounds of ammunition in a sealed box, to be opened only upon alert and for use while en route to join their unit. This practice was stopped in 2007 due to safety concerns.
Prior to 2007 members of the Swiss Militia were supplied with 50 rounds of ammunition for their military weapon in a sealed ammo box that was regularly audited by the government. This was so that, in the case of an emergency, the militia could respond quickly. However, since 2007 this practice has been discontinued. Only 2,000 specialist militia members (who protect airports and other sites of particular sensitivity) are permitted to keep their military-issued ammunition at home. The rest of the militia get their ammunition from their military armory in the event of an emergency.