What I learned hitchhiking in Switzerland

by Tim Condon

This is kind of interesting:

The thing is, I remember asking about just this issue when I was a hippie back in the 1970’s, hitchhiking across Europe and North Africa. When I entered Switzerland across the northern border of Italy…

…I got a ride with a young businessman (he was really exercised about the superhighways that were then being built, saying “We’re a small country, we don’t need this crap!”). I asked him if it was true that everyone had a machine gun (aka a battle rifle with a selector on it) and hand grenades and the such in their home. He said yes, every young man (and woman? I can’t remember), when s/he turned a certain age had to report for several months training with the Swiss military. It kind of sounded like a three or four-month program. Part of that program was getting issued a battle rifle and ammunition, which were required to be kept in one’s home. “Well, wouldn’t that mean that someone could use the rifle to rob a bank or something?” I asked. “Oh no!” he responded. “No one would ever do that!”

“No one would ever rob a bank in Switzerland?” I asked back.

“No, no,” he said. “They might rob a bank, but they would never use their military rifle! That is for the fatherland. They would get another gun to rob a bank….”

I smiled. Those Swiss! Are they great or what?

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