* Gunman was shot by police, now in hospital
* Swiss fire arms laws seen as liberal
(Adds bullets, background on gun control)
By Denis Balibouse
DAILLON, Switzerland, Jan 3 A gunman killed
three women and wounded two men late on Wednesday in the Swiss
village of Daillon, opening fire from his apartment then
pursuing the attack in the street, Swiss officials said.
The 33-year-old gunman, who has not been named, threatened
police when they tried to arrest him and was shot in the chest
before being arrested and taken to hospital, police in the Swiss
canton of Valais said on Thursday. No police officers were
The shooting is likely to stir a fresh debate about
Switzerland's fire arms laws that allow its male citizens to
retain guns after their mandatory military service.
The Daillon gunman was a local resident who had been in
psychiatric care in 2005 and was unemployed and living on
welfare benefits, police said. His only previous conviction was
for marijuana use.
The village is close to the town of Sion, the capital of the
canton - or region - of Valais, known for its world-class ski
resorts such as Verbier.
The women who died, aged 32, 54 and 79, were all shot at
least twice, in the head and chest. The youngest was married to
one of the injured men and they had young children together,
regional public prosecutor Catherine Seppey told a news
conference. The injured men were aged 33 and 63.
Police said the gunman used at least two firearms - an old
Swiss army carbine and a rifle capable of firing lead shot -
even though his weapons had been seized and destroyed in 2005,
and he was not currently listed as having any guns.
He began firing from his apartment, shooting at people in
the street and in neighbouring buildings, but later came out
into the street, police said, adding that he appeared to have
fired more than 20 shots.
Swiss website 20minutes.ch quoted villagers as saying the
gunman had been drinking heavily. It also said he was armed with
an assault rifle, but the public prosecutor did not confirm that
Swiss voters, backed by the government, rejected a proposal
in February 2011 to tighten the country's liberal fire arms
laws. Citizens outside the military can apply for a permit to
purchase up to three weapons from the age of 18 in a country
where sharp shooting and hunting are popular sports.
There is no national gun register but some estimates
indicate that at least one in every three of Switzerland's 8
million inhabitants keeps a gun.
Many are stored in people's attics, a legacy of
Switzerland's policy of creating a citizen army that can be
mobilised quickly to defend its neutrality.
A shooting in the regional parliament of Zug in 2001 that
caused 14 deaths prompted calls to tighten national laws.
But the majority of Swiss citizens rejected a proposal in
2011 for additional measures such as the creation of local
arsenals for military weapons outside service periods.
(Writing by Tom Miles; Additional reporting by Emma Farge;
Editing by Mohammad Zargham/Ruth Pitchford)