Swiss vote against new gun laws

Voters in Switzerland have rejected a move to ban firearms from people's homes, following a national referendum.

Result polls revealed that the highly debated reform was voted against by 57 per cent of the public - highlighting how many citizens still view a weapon at home as a crucial element of national identity.

The vast majority of Swiss men liable for military service store their guns at home and often keep them after leaving the army. Occasional shootings and the 2001 massacre in Zug which killed 14 people, prompted calls for tighter controls.

Opposition, which included the populist right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), campaigned heavily arguing that the ban would do little to improve security. The SVP took a strong stance in support of the long-standing Swiss tradition that male citizens who are also reserve soldiers keep their army gun at home.

"I'm extremely satisfied, it shows that the Swiss people mobilised to preserve our democracy, to preserve our rights and freedoms, and I think it seals a pact the Swiss people want to preserve Switzerland as it is today for the next decades or even centuries," said Xavier Schwytzguebel, president of the youth section of the Swiss People's Party shortly after the provisional results were given.

Supporters of the initiative, which also aimed to restrict purchases of new guns and set up a central register of all gun owners, used posters featuring a teddy bear with a bleeding bullet wound in its torso.