Gun control forever-A A +A
Sunday, January 6, 2013
TOO bad the implementation of Comelec’s Resolution 9561 covering the gun ban came a bit late. Under the Omnibus Election Code, it is considered an election offense for any person to carry firearms outside his residence or place of business from January 13, 2012–June 12, 2013 election period.
If gun control came a month before, perhaps seven-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella of Caloocan City and Ranjilo Nemer of Mandaluyong City would have been enjoying life in the New Year. A stray bullet hit Ella in the head just 15 minutes into the New Year. On the other hand, Nemer died from four gunshot wounds in the head and body apparently from the accidental firing of a “sulpak.”
Ella’s family members had not even bought firecrackers and had confined their noisemaking to toy trumpets. The Nemers forbade the boy from lingering in the streets to avoid being injured.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police focused on disciplining their ranks, forgetting that even civilians own and carry guns. Personnel from both branches of the services taped their firearms to make sure they won’t use taxpayer-funded guns during the New Year noisemaking.
Law enforcement focused on regulating the manufacture and distribution of powerful and illegal firecrackers. Close to 400 persons were arrested during the PNP’s 7,230 operations against their manufacturers, retailers and users.
Before the New Year, P-Noy was supposed to tackle a proposal to impose a gun ban during the holiday season to prevent stray bullets. Nothing so far came out of the proposal.
The PNP scored low grades in preventing civilians from firing their guns. What did the PNP do to make sure security agencies and gun-owning civilians keep their firearms tucked inside their houses?
Police data showed there were 1.2 million registered firearms in the Philippines in 2012 while there are about 600,000 unlicensed firearms in circulation. It takes only a few of these gun owners to create mayhem in our communities.
Compare the New Year mayhem when the PNP and the AFP set up checkpoints. Carrying guns outside their owner’s home became like the proverbial passage through the eye of the needle. Police checkpoints during the election period have lowered the crime rates.
In fact, the Philippines should impose strict gun controls not only during the election period or the holiday season. It should be there year round.
Let me reiterate. Gun control should not be left to a presidential gun enthusiast during the election period or the Christmas holidays. It should be the year-round. Forever, if need be, for generations to come.
We should learn from Japan. There, firearm-related homicides in 2008 were at 11 casualties. That figure is huge compared to 2006 when Japan had an astounding two homicides. When that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal.
In South Korea for the past five years, a total of 50 cases of gun-related crimes leading to death or injury were reported. Many were accidents, not intentional murder attempts.
The Australian government gun reform laws banned assault weapons and shotguns, tightened licensing and financed gun amnesty and buyback programs. The American Journal of Law and Economics reported in 2010 that firearm homicides in Australia dropped 59 percent between 1995 and 2006. In the 18 years before the 1996 laws, there were 13 gun massacres resulting in 102 deaths. After the gun control law passed, Australia saw zero gun massacres.
Congress should enact the Citizen Protection Act of 2010, a measure that would regulate the bearing of firearms and deadly weapons in public places, penalize its violation, and provide general amnesty and financial rewards for the voluntary surrender and decommissioning of loose firearms.
Its passage could render some sense on the deaths of Nicole Ella and Ranjilo Nemer.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 07, 2013.