Swiss Ms.

Move over, Annie Oakley. Watch that apple, William Tell. Switzerland's top young marksman this year turns out to be a markswoman, for the first time in history. Teenager Rahel Goldschmidt took top honors over some 4,000 young competitors in a 341-year-old shooting contest called the Knabenschiessen (boys' shooting contest).

In nations where crime with guns is a problem, this feat might not deserve a salute. But Switzerland has managed to couple a high ratio of arms per capita with a low ratio of crime by gun. Unlike most nations it has no standing army, but has kept out of wars for centuries. It trains its young men, usually when they're in their teens, to defend the country. They then serve as armed reservists until age 42.

After Ms. Goldschmidt's marksmanship victory, perhaps the Swiss will want to add universal service for women as well. Swiss women were among the last in Europe to get the vote (in 1971). But the nation is due to have a woman, Ruth Dreifuss, assume its rotating presidency in 1999.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.