Sunday July 22, 2018

Seares: The president packs a gun. So what?

A NEWS story about Rodrigo Duterte warning those “trying to destroy my country” was run last Saturday (July 1) with a photo of the president packing a gun on his waistband.

His display of the gun was intentional: he walked to the side of the podium and lifted his shirt to show the firearm. Looked like he was using it as a stage prop for his threat: “Do not destroy my country because I will really kill you.”

While he made similar threats before in public forums--directed at drug lords, politician-protectors of drug traffickers, and corrupt government officials--there was no display of a firearm. Flashing the gun added theater to the verbal threat.

It also raised other questions.

Right as chief

Not about his right to carry a handgun in public. He must have the document, which requires a psychological examination, but then he’s the commander in chief. He can carry a bazooka with no papers and no one will accost him about it.

The talk that the gun-toting sparked at weekend dwelt more on the risk of flaunting a gun in that manner. GMA News mentioned only waistband while ABS-CBN referred to its being holstered.

The danger

Gun experts tell us non-experts--comprising of citizens who have never toted or even touched a firearm in their lives--about the danger of an un-holstered gun:

The trigger being “unintentionally accessed” while it’s there on the waistband;

Not having “trigger discipline” or skill in putting the gun at, or removing it from, the said location.

Then police chief Jesus Versoza issued in 2009 a prohibition against civilians and police in plainclothes tucking their gun on the waistband. That, after a video was shown with a school president, a gun displayed at his midsection, manhandling a Quezon City gas station attendant.

Why the no-no

The no-no has come from gun experts against carrying on the waistband:
-- pistols without “external mechanism that must be disengaged to fire”;
-- revolvers without “heavy trigger pulls.”

Unless there’s no other way, handguns shouldn’t be carried that way. Besides, a president doesn’t have to carry any firearm. He has a company of PSG men and women, an elite force with all the weapons at hand or within quick reach, to protect him. If he needs a prop, he could use a fake gun or have his aide Bong Go, perpetually near him, hand it on cue at the podium.

It’s dramatic

But the firearm, his audience must agree, provides drama when he lifts his shirt to show it, like a cop or a toughie displaying firepower to match a threat to kill and a “son-of-a-whore” expletive.
The Duterte stage never runs out of exciting things said or done. That’s why people love to watch and listen.