On Monday, a man walked into the office of an insurance firm in the Swiss city of Schaffhausen and began attacking people with a chainsaw. He wounded at least five people and sparked a massive manhunt along the nation’s border with Germany.
The alleged attacker has been identified as 51-year-old Franz Wrousis, a person who apparently “has spent significant time living in a forest.” Mr.Wrousis has two prior convictions for weapons charges according to Agence France-Presse.
Swiss police don’t believe that Mr. Wrousis’ attack was “a terrorist act” (presumably a euphemism for violence inspired by the Islamic faith, as his victims were certainly terrorized). They believe it was related to some sort of quarrel with the firm itself.
Police were alerted “about 10 minutes after the attack began” — validating once again the old saw (so to speak) about police responsiveness when seconds count.
One of the victims suffered serious wounds, and all were hospitalized after the attack. Various news sources indicate that none of the injured have life-threatening wounds.
Firearms ownership is relatively common in the Swiss Confederation which has taken a more sophisticated approach to firearms laws than their European neighbors. Swiss men between the ages of 18 and 34 are required to do military service, during which they are issued rifles and pistols that they keep at home.
According to a 2007 survey, the Swiss have the world’s third highest rate of firearms ownership on a per capita basis.
The BBC reports that Swiss citizens are given the option to purchase these weapons after their service obligation is completed, and many choose to do so. In recent years, Swiss voters have rejected several recent efforts to impose more stringent gun control.
Switzerland does have some restrictive gun laws, though, and doesn’t have a tradition of carrying of firearms for personal self defense. Swiss citizens may apply for a concealed carry license, but they are issued parsimoniously.
The right isn’t respected for all persons. Resident aliens from certain countries are specifically denied the right to purchase a firearm: Algeria, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey.
In this case, the lack of an armed civilian firearms on the scene, coupled with an untimely police response, allowed this attack to occur without resistance. And enabled the perpetrator’s escape.
It should have been a defensive gun use.