Voters in that most democratic of countries, Switzerland, have voted against proposed tighter controls on gun ownership, voters deciding during the referendum to retain the current system, which allows army-issued weapons to be kept at home.
Supporters of the proposal to tighten gun control wanted to have weapons kept in armouries and were demanding stricter checks on gun owners.
Opponents argue that such a move would undermine trust in the army, which is a national institution, and possibly even mean an end to the traditional citizen army.
It is estimated that there are two to three million guns circulating in Switzerland, although no-one really knows for sure because there is no national firearms register.
Semi-automatic assault rifles are kept at home by all those serving in the army and there are also thousands of hunting rifles and pistols, sport shooting being very popular in Switzerland. Serving and former soldiers have been allowed to keep their weapons at home since World War II.
The proposal to end this custom was backed by a coalition of doctors, women’s groups and police associations, although for the proposal to succeed, it required the support of the majority of Swiss citizens and the cantons.
Switzerland’s has a very low overall crime rate by European standards. On the other hand, it has the highest rate of gun suicide in Europe and there have been a number of high profile shootings in the past few years.
However, other sources indicate that the number of gun deaths in Switzerland has declined by nearly 50% during the past decade, from 466 in 1998 (413 suicides) to 259 in 2008 (239 suicides).
In 2009, of 236 reported homicides or attempted homicides, only 55 involved the use of a gun, an in 3,500 reported robberies, 416 involved a gun.