ZURICH -- Swiss voters backed new restrictions on semi-automatic firearms, choosing to forgo a potential standoff with the European Union.
While Switzerland has declined to join the 28-country bloc, it is a member of the open-border Schengen area and therefore must harmonize its weapons laws. Voters supported the change, according to first projections by Swiss broadcaster SRF.
As part of the reform, civilian use and ownership of large-magazine semi-automatic guns will require special permission and additional checks.
Fearing their country's tradition of shooting for sport might was under threat, rifle aficionados had opposed the change, saying it wouldn't make the country any safer, since criminals don't typically buy guns legally.
Switzerland ranks high in Europe for civilian ownership of firearms on a per capita basis, as there is mandatory military service and former soldiers may keep their weapons. Gun crime is rare, however, and the last mass-fatality shooting took place in 2001.
In a separate referendum, the Swiss also backed an overhaul of the corporate tax regime.
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