By Alexander Villafania
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA—The recent fatal shooting incident during the “The Dark Knight Rises” showing in Colorado has again raised concerns about gun ownership in the US and even in the Philippines.
The suspect, a graduate student named James Holmes, was said to be carrying several types of weapons, all of which were legally acquired.
In the Philippines, gun ownership is highly regulated through Republic Act 8294 but the acquisition and private ownership of arms remain a subject of intense debate.
Several lawmakers have pushed for stricter regulation or total banning of selling guns to private owners.
Private gun groups, however, have defended that responsible gun ownership is a way to reduce incidences of guns being used to do physical harm.
More recently, the local organization Peaceful Responsible Owners of Guns (PROGUN) released a statement condemning the Colorado incident. They added that the root of the problem is “social, moral, and educational,” wherein the concern is with the owner and not the gun itself.
The Philippine Practical Shooting Association (PPSA) stressed that their members are responsible owners who participate in controlled competition. They also emphasize safety in gun handling and sportsmanship.
Demetrio “Bolo” Tuason, chairman of Arms Corporation of the Philippines (Armscor) and who has an annual shooting competition named after him, stressed that members adhere to the rules of gun ownership.
“Owners should be mindful of their surroundings and by remembering that their firearm could be loaded, it would deter them from even fooling around with it,” said Tuason.
Here are some fundamentals from the PNP’s Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO), particularly on gun ownership, handling, and safety at home:
1. Follow the three basic rules of safe gun handling. First, always point the muzzle in a safe direction and never point a firearm at anyone or anything you don't want to shoot. Second, keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot. And third, keep the action open and the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
2. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
3. Never pass a firearm to another person, or accept a firearm from another person, until the cylinder or action is open and you've personally checked that the weapon is completely unloaded.
4. Before handling any firearm, understand its operation.
5. Never rely on any mechanical device for safety.
6. Think before shooting: once you pull the trigger you can't take back the shot you've just fired!
Never joke around or engage in horseplay while handling or using firearms.
7. Be alert at all times. Never shoot if you're tired, cold, or impaired in any way. Don't mix alcohol or drugs with shooting.
8. If you see unsafe behavior when firearms are being handled or used, speak up and take action to correct the unsafe behavior immediately.
9. When you are not using your firearm, you should ensure that it is stored safely. Take affirmative measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to a defensive firearm by children, or firearm theft.
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