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Despite slayings, Swiss hold to gun rights

PARIS — As much as many Americans, the Swiss love their guns, seeing them as integral to their national traditions of self-reliance, independence, and international neutrality, with a trained and equipped citizen-army capable of deterring any foolish invader.

Many Swiss, after serving in the army, keep their service weapons at home, and the country has no national registry for firearms.

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Only two years ago, in February 2011, the Swiss handily rejected restrictions on gun ownership in a national referendum.

Those views are unlikely to change soon, even after a mentally imbalanced man allegedly shot and killed three women and wounded two men in the southern Swiss village of Daillon on Wednesday evening.

The gunman, who was known to the authorities but not thought to be dangerous, was wounded by the police as they arrested him and is in intensive care.

The gunman, 33, who was not named, had been placed in a psychiatric ward in 2005, when guns he then owned were taken from him and destroyed, according to Swiss police in the canton of Valais, about 60 miles east of Geneva.

It is not known how he got the firearms used in the killings — including a hunting gun and a Swiss army carbine in use in the first half of the last century, a regional public prosecutor, Catherine Seppey, told a news conference — but guns are easily available in Switzerland.

According to villagers who spoke to local news agencies, the gunman was a local, unemployed, on welfare, getting psychiatric care, and a ward of the court.

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