A GROUP of airsoft enthusiasts petitioned the High Court Wednesday to declare unconstitutional a Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) ruling classifying airsoft guns as a firearm.
The guns are also included in the list of items covered by the election gun ban.
Airsoft is a game that makes use of gun replicas. The petition is filed by lawyer Reynante Orceo, founder of Easternbloc Airsoft Philippines, an alliance of airsofters composed of professionals, businessmen, students, and government workers based in the eastern part of Rizal province.
In his 14-page petition, the group is assailing Comelec Resolution 8714, which banned airsoft guns and gun replicas, and redefined and amended the meaning of the word “firearms” contrary to the existing law on firearms.
The power to amend an existing law belongs to the legislative branch, they said, and is beyond the power and authority of the Comelec.
Orceo said airsoft guns and their replicas are mere toy rifles or pistols, thus should not be considered as firearm.
He said Republic Act 8294 or An Act Amending the Provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1866 or the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition law did not mention airsoft guns and their replica in classifying different firearms.
“In including airsoft gun within the meaning of firearm, the subject resolution in effect criminalizes the sport and playing the game make it irrelevant if one’s possession of airsoft gun and their replica/imitation is now covered by prohibited acts notwithstanding that there is still no law that governs the use thereof,” Orceo said.
Petitioner further claimed the ban on airsoftt guns during the election period is contrary to state policies and constitutional provisions recognizing the family as the foundation of the nation and mandating the government to promote and strengthen it as an institution.
“Playing airsoft has become bonding moments amongst families. Petitioner is playing airsoft with his brother and nephews, sons played with their father, husband with his wife, and bother with his brother,” the he added.
The petition likewise also asked the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the Comelec to issue a resolution allowing the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies deputized by the Comelec to desist from further enforcing Resolution 8714.
The Comelec issued Resolution 8714 in line with Section 32, paragraph 1 of RA 7166 or the Synchronized Election Law of 1991, which prohibits any person from carrying or transporting firearms or other deadly weapons in public places, including any building, street, park, private vehicle or public conveyance, even if licensed to possess or carry the same unless allowed by the Comelec.
The resolution also provides for the rules and regulations for the implementation of the election gun ban.
On the other hand, Section 2 (b) of the same resolution classifies airgun, airsoft guns, and their replica as firearm. (JCV/Sunnex)