More lawmakers buck total gun ban

By Paolo Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 14 2013 07:47 AM | Updated as of Jan 14 2013 03:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines - More lawmakers have opposed calls for a total gun ban but backed suggestions for the authorities to impose stricter firearms control.

Deputy Majority Leader and Valenzuela Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo said in implementing stricter gun control, there should be focus on safe handling of guns to prevent accidents.

“All gun owners must be required to have mandatory gun safe handling course and pass the evaluation test. The problem really lies with loose firearms,” Gunigundo said.

Tarlac Rep. Jeci Lapus, a co-author of House Bill 5484 or the Comprehensive Regulation of Firearms, Light Weapons and Ammunition that seeks to repeal Presidential Decree 1866 and was approved by the House on third and final reading, said what is important is responsible gun ownership.

“We cannot just disarm innocent civilians. We should go after illegal gun owners,” he said.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. earlier said the country certainly needs stricter firearms control.

He said a total gun ban, except for those in the military, police and security agencies, is ideal as long as there are no loose firearms.

House Assistant Majority Leader and Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna said he would only support a total gun ban if the government can confiscate each and every illegal firearm all over the country.

He said unlike in the US where the right to bear arms is enshrined in their Constitution, the Philippines does not have any provisions in its Constitution that states the right of the people to keep guns.

Tugna, however, said as a democratic country, the right to keep and bear arms is a natural right of Filipinos as evidenced by laws that regulate the use, manufacturing, possession, acquisition and disposition of firearms.

“Total gun ban will not effectively prevent use of firearms to commit crimes. What needs to be done is to strictly enforce the existing laws and make sure that only people who are responsible and qualified to carry firearms would be given licenses,” he added.