Why should toy guns be registered?

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Friday, August 8, 2014


REPRESENTATIVE Rufus Rodriguez of the 2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City, the principal author of House Bill 3805, wants to ban the import, display, sale and display of replica or airsoft guns for public security and safety.

He also wants to force airsoft gun owners to register their weapons just like a real firearm. Those found guilty of violating the bill will be fined not less than P100,000 and/or will be imprisoned for not less than six months.

In his mind, he believes he is doing the community a service by requiring toy gun owners to register their weapons, because he believes that something like this will keep undesirables like bandits and thieves from using them.

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Personally, I fail to see his logic.

Let's pretend that I am a member of one of the so-called "undesirable" hold-up gangs. Let's also pretend that I owned an airsoft weapon before the new law was implemented. Let's say that - for some strange reason - I choose to abide by the new law and get my weapon registered under my name.

Okay, there. It's on paper. This replica M16A2 (a weapon which is normally impossible to acquire by civilians) is under my name. Its serial number, my name, and my details are on the registration form.

Then I go out to rob a 7-11. I dress in black, conceal my face, and rob the place blind. The police arrive on the scene the next day, and the witnesses say they saw a man come into the store waving around a "big gun." Nobody but a gun nut can tell you the designation of a weapon when it's pointed at their face. I didn't fire a shot, and I am now several thousands of pesos richer. And I did it with a registered weapon. Even if someone did manage to tell the cops what kind of gun I was using (by some act of God), most airsoft players in the Philippines carry replicas of the same types of weapons. Every airsoft player and their sister owns a replica M16, and everyone else carries M4s or AKs. In many cases, guns can be identical.

The logic of registering a real weapon, however, is extremely sound. Every real pistol, rifle, or submachine gun is made with a rifled barrel.

Whenever a bullet leaves a rifled barrel, it has marks or grooves that are imparted into it from the barrel. Since manufacturers use different cutting processes to rifle each barrel, then every barrel is unique, which means a bullet found in a murder victim's body can be traced back to a single, registered firearm.

The same is not true for airsoft weapons. These toy guns have no rifling, and thieves will not use them unless they believe that shooting people with little non-lethal plastic pellets will serve to further their criminal goals. A projectile fired from an airsoft gun is absolutely untraceable. A pellet fired from a little tiny spring-powered toy pistol can be identical to a pellet fired from an absurdly expensive imported fully-automatic pro-airsoft rifle.

That said, it will serve no purpose, in the mind of this author, to register what was previously considered, by Republic Act 10591, to be a toy. This law excluded airsoft weapons and replicas from the definition of "firearm," and were no longer entitled to be included as part of the Commission on Elections gun ban.

Airsoft players from all over the Philippines are already complaining. One in particular said, "The whole thing is just plain stupidity. They can't regulate the proliferation of actual loose guns which are now in the hands of outlaws, so they just pick on our hobby to give them something to report and say that they have 'regulated something' to prevent crime."

While another makes another interesting point:

"What's next? Regulate the kitchen knife? Yes, it's not far off since the common kitchen knife is also used in robberies, homicide, and murder!"

There are only two things that House Bill 3805 will accomplish if it is passed into law - the death of a perfectly legal hobby, and the fattening of the government's purse with the registration fees of "law abiding citizens."

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 08, 2014.

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