Armed neutrality,

In principle, the Swiss cannot enter military alliances unless they are attacked. They must not take sides in international conflicts and cannot give right of transit to foreign forces.

For Switzerland, neutrality implies armed neutrality, which explains why the country has always strived to maintain its defence at a respectable level, and why military service remains compulsory for male citizens under the constitution…

The Swiss Armyexternal link largely is a non-career militia. Switzerland has compulsory military service for male citizens, though this and indeed the role of the army altogether have recently been called into question. Nevertheless, joining up and passing through the “recruit school” has been a rite of passage for generations of young Swiss men.

After their basic training, they have to maintain their skills by spending several weeks in the army each year. Young soldiers in uniform, often carrying weapons, are a frequent sight in Swiss towns and cities, and the sound of gunfire is common in the otherwise peaceful Swiss landscape when they are on manoeuvres.

Soldiers take their guns home with them. There has been controversy about this in recent years due to the frequent role of army weapons in murders of spouses and suicides. At a nationwide vote in February 2011 the Swiss rejected an initiative aimed at creating a central gun registry, a strict licensing system for the use of firearms, a ban on the purchase of automatic weapons and a ban on keeping army-issue guns at home. Läs artikel