Zurich — Switzerland on Sunday backed new restrictions on semi-automatic firearms, choosing to avoid 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 harmonise its weapons laws. Nearly two-thirds of voters backed the change in a referendum on Sunday. It means civilians using and owning large-magazine semi-automatic guns will need special permission and additional checks. “We’re taking care of the safety and security of people in Switzerland without undermining the traditional shooting culture,” said justice minister Karin Keller-Sutter. Opponents of the measure, including members of rifle clubs, had feared the country’s tradition of shooting for sport was under threat. Those in favour, including the government, cited the importance of Schengen and said the new rules would not  end the culture of shooting matches — such as the annual Zurich event called Knabensc...

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