It happens almost everyday.
Whether intentional or accidental, a person gets shot and we hear about it in the news on a daily basis.
What’s becoming startling is the fact that these cases no longer involve just criminals or policemen. In fact, there have been cases of private individuals and even children being shot, shooting themselves, or shooting someone around them.
This should come as no surprise because according to the PNP’s firearms division, there are about 1.4 million registered guns in the country. Of course, that list does not include the estimated 4 million illegal and unlicensed guns being carried around by civilians and criminals.
Meant for Protection, a Tool for Tragedy
13 year old Janjan Vilches was thought of by his friends and family as an all around good person. He did not like hurting anyone but unfortunately, he didn’t think much of himself.
|13 year old Janjan Vilches
Last August 1, Janjan told his sister Christina to go to his Facebook page. There, he had left an important note that he wanted his family to see. Busy doing school work, Christina paid the boy no mind and Janjan went upstairs.
A few moments later, Amelia Burgos, a neighbor and good friend of Janjan’s father Mario came and visited the Vilches kids. Amelia immediately noticed a note posted on the family’s fridge, stating that Janjan had left a message on Facebook. Alarmed by this, Amelia told Christina to check the boy’s Facebook page at once.
Without saying anything, Christina ran up to check on Janjan. She began crying and screamed for Janjan to open the door. Amelia immediately followed and also pleaded for Janjan to open the door. Christina and Amelia were answered by the sound of a single gunshot.
Mario, who was at work, was immediately notified that something had happened at home. He immediately rushed home to see his son lying in a pool of blood. He did not realize that Janjan had shot himself until he saw and empty bullet shell beside the boy.
| The suicide note that Janjan left on his Facebook Page
The note that Janjan wanted her sister to read was a suicide note that he had posted on Facebook. There, he stated that he had started hating himself and that he had become too addicted to playing video games as reasons for ending his life.
Both Christina and Mario feel regret for what had happened. Christina regrets not paying attention to her brother. She says that maybe she could’ve done something to stop her brother’s suicide. Mario regrets ever teaching Janjan how to use a gun. He taught his son how to use a gun so that he could protect himself and his sisters. Instead, his son used that protection to end his life.
The number of gun related incidents has not gone down since 2008. During that year, there were 3,303 incidents involving guns. In 2009, there were 4,711 incidents, and in 2010 alone, there were already 5,779 incidents.
Just how easy is it to get a gun?
Likened to shopping in bazaars, gun purchase has never been easier.
Thanks to Executive Order 194 by former President Joseph Estrada, any Filipino can own a firearm provided that these firearms are not firearms used for war.
Another stipulation stated in the Executive Order is that a Filipino can own as many guns as he desires.
Of course, there are other basic requirements such as being 21 years old and above, must be employed, must have good moral character, drug test, police clearance, valid identification, and must pass a neuro-psychiatric examination just to name a few.
According to a PNP accredited testing center however, private individuals need not take the neuro-psychiatric test.
Surprisingly, the PNP does not require physical presence when applying for a gun license.
Now, say you don’t have time to go through all of these processes, or just don’t feel like it, gun dealers are willing to assist you with these requirements. Some even come as package deals with the guns that you want to purchase. According to gun dealers, it’s mostly businessmen who they help with licensing.
Owning a gun requires a license, while carrying a gun around requires a permit to carry. This permit allows a person to bring his or her firearm wherever they go, provided that they do not bring it to public places of leisure and the firearm cannot be carried around in a holster or in plain sight. The firearm must be placed in a protective case.
According to some, getting a permit to carry is relatively easy because it’s easy to talk to the people that handle the distribution of this permit.
At around 15 to 25 thousand pesos, you can already purchase your very own firearm. It’s just as expensive as a high-end cellular phone or a laptop computer. In that price range, you can get yourself a 0.9 mm caliber pistol, a popular choice among gun owners.
|Between P15,000 to P20,000, you can get yourself either a .9mm pistol, a .45mm pistol, or a 12 gauge shotgun.
There you have it. Seems pretty easy doesn’t it? You’d expect that getting guns would be more difficult given that they are the most common weapons used in crimes.
There will always be a debate whether it is safe to own a gun or not. Anti-gun groups like Gunless Society will have their reasons why a home is no place for a gun while groups like PRO-Gun have their reasons for purchasing and carrying guns.
Ultimately, it boils down to responsible gun ownership. If all gun owners are trained and taught well how to handle and keep a gun, it’s certain that incidents involving guns will lessen.
After all, guns are just guns, they only become dangerous when used irresponsibly.
“GUN OWNERSHIP” was aired on Saturday, August 20, 2011
You can catch Failon Ngayon every Saturday, 4:45 pm on ABS-CBN and replays every Sunday, 2:00pm on ANC.