New Year with a Bang Bang-A A +A
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
I JUST can’t recall how many New Year celebrations were marred with gun-related deaths and injuries since the time I was a kid who enjoyed, like the rest, watching firecrackers and other noisemakers.
The year 2013 started with a bang, not only from firecrackers but from guns. Before 2012 bid goodbye, it left some incidents of indiscriminate firing which eventually led to the injuring and killing of some innocent victims by stray bullets.
Two children were killed by stray bullets. Ranjelo Nimer, 4, sustained gunshot wounds in his head and parts of the body after a homemade sumpak went off. The suspect, Emmanuel Janaban, tried to excuse himself by saying that it was an accident and that he really never intended to shoot his firearm. Why was he holding his improvised gun then? The gun would not go off all by itself.
Definitely Janaban’s gun is not a licensed firearm, thus mere possession of it already makes him a criminal. He is now detained and facing charges in Mandaluyong City.
Stephanie Nicole Ella, the 7-year-old child who was merely watching firecrackers at their residence died of a single stray bullet which entered the top of her head and lodged behind her left eye. She succumbed after cheating death for nearly 48 hours.
The trigger-happy killer has yet been identified.
Last Friday, a man suspected to be using illegal drugs went on a wild rampage in Kawit, Cavite, killing seven persons, including two children, and injuring nine others before policemen shot him to death. The rampage involved the shooter and an accomplice who reloaded the bullets of the suspect’s .45 caliber pistol.
There was a half-hour lapse before responding policemen arrived at the scene that led to their encounter with Ronald Bae, the trigger-happy gunman. Even the response time of policemen is now an issue. Bae could have been prevented from shooting more if only there was a shorter response time.
Aside from these three top stories for the New Year, there were other stray bullet injuries and crimes involving guns. The common denominator is a gun fired in the wrong hands, at the wrong time and at the wrong place.
After these incidents involving the discharge of firearms comes now the call for stricter gun control laws and policies that would limit ownership of these killing gadgets.
As per information, there were a number of bills lodged and are pending in our legislature for effective gun control to civilians. Legal gun ownership is a big business and a multi-million industry among gun manufacturers, dealers and distributors. Even to some of our policemen, the processing of firearms licenses and permits is a source of extra income for them.
I was previously a holder of a short firearm which I acquired during a gun show several years ago. Having a licensed firearm cost me thousands: putting the amount to the gun itself, its importation duties, the processing of its license and the mark-up profit of the gun trader where I acquired the same.
One factor that helps in the proliferation of guns are these gun shows and gun sales held in malls and other public places. Fortunately, these activities for gun enthusiasts are only for trade licensed firearms and not those which do not bear serial numbers. There are a wide range of choices of calibers and makes. Included in gun shows are bullets, special ones like those double action types and armor-piercing which are normally sold only to uniformed personnel of the police and the military.
Another factor is the lack of monitoring and profiling of firearms by the Philippine National Police wherein a previously licensed firearm is resold or its license is not renewed by the gun owner. Technically speaking, a gun with an expired license is a already a loose firearm, just like a gun that was previously owned legally and sold to others without being legally transferred in the name of the buyer.
There are a lot of incidents of gun licenses not being renewed. This gives our investigating authorities a headache in trying to trace the ownership of guns as there are many of them that are not properly profiled and documented.
Although the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation do now have the equipment and the application of technology on ballistics, they still have a hard time tracing ownership of guns through the examination of their slugs and shells. This is due perhaps to the proliferation of loose firearms and the laxity of policies on gun licenses renewal and transfer.
Lawmakers should not only focus on gun acquisition by civilians but also on the renewal of licenses and transfers to give our law enforcement authorities the lead in cases of identifying gun owners discharging their firearms.
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Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 08, 2013.