Three Killed in Shooting at Swiss Wood-Processing Factory

Three people were killed and seven injured in a shooting at a wood-processing plant in central Switzerland, police said.

The gunman, a 42-year-old Swiss national who worked at wood-processing company Kronospan Switzerland AG, was among the dead, Lucerne cantonal police said today at a press conference. Rescue services arrived at the factory in Menznau, a town about 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of Lucerne. The police said the motive isn’t known.

“It’s unbelievable what has happened,” said Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf at a press conference in Bern. “It’s really horrible.”

Switzerland, where men can keep army-issue firearms after mandatory military service, has been debating stricter gun control measures since January, when a 33-year-old gunman killed three people in the southern Swiss village of Daillon. That was the country’s worst mass shooting since 2001, when a man with an assault rifle opened fire in a regional government building in the city of Zug, killing 14 people, according to Daniel Warner, assistant director at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.

The Menznau plant was closed off to the public and a phone hotline for relatives set up, the police said, adding the shooting occurred shortly after 9 a.m. Swiss time.

National Registry

Swiss lawmakers will consider a proposal next month to connect existing cantonal gun registries. Voters two years ago rejected a plan to require the registration of all firearms as well as a motion to change Switzerland’s tradition of letting citizens keep army-issue weapons at home.

While Switzerland ranks third behind the U.S. and Yemen in firearms per capita, it has a gun homicide rate one-seventh of that in America. The country’s 8 million people owned an estimated 3.4 million guns in 2007, according to the independent Small Arms Survey.

Firearm-related homicides rose to 45 in 2011 from 40 in 2010 in Switzerland, according to police statistics.

“Switzerland used to be the world’s largest gated community,” Warner said. “Those days are over.”

Kronospan Switzerland sells wood products worldwide, and has about 450 employees, according to the Menznau municipality.

Swiss news agency SDA said rescue helicopters evacuated four injured people from the factory. The Tages-Anzeiger newspaper said the shooting occurred in the plant’s cafeteria.

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