Urgent call for gun control

The Inbox

By Ellen Tordesillas

As always, we need to be violently jolted to do what is needed to be done. Whether the three recent incidents are harrowing enough for our authorities and lawmakers to move remain to be seen.

Last Sunday, 13 people died in a gun battle in Atimonan, Quezon. The reports get uglier as the root of the shootout or rubout is being uncovered. Three of those killed were members of the Philippine National Police and another three had identification cards of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Reports said the killings have something to do with jueteng.

Reports said authorities recovered from the vehicles 11 .45 ca. pistols, a 9 mm pistol, an M14 rifle and an M16 carbine.

Last Friday, a defeated candidate for barangay captain, Ronald Bae, went on a rampage with his .45 cal. Gun in Kawit, Cavite killing eight people including a pregnant woman, two children and a taho vendor who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Despite repeated reminders that it is prohibited to fire guns to celebrate New Year, there were still victims of stray bullets. The lives of Ranjelo Nimer and Nicole Ella were all cut short in their childhood because there are people, devoid of sense and conscience.

One of the 20 bills related to gun control pending in Congress is Senate Bill #13 authored by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV filed in 2010.

Titled “Gun Control Act of 2010”, the bill calls for tighter gun control and stiffer penalties for unlawful possession, acquisition and disposition of firearms particularly by public officials whether in civilian or in military, police or law enforcement service.

A former member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the misuse of arms has always been a concern of Trillanes.

It will be recalled that one of the issues they raised when he and more than 300 officers and soldiers rebelled against Gloria Arroyo on July 27, 2003 in what was known as the Oakwood Mutiny was the sale of AFP firearms to enemies of the government.

Those were the very same weapons that were killing them, they deplored the irregularity.

In Trillanes’ bill, the Philippines National Police is mandated to create a “Firearms and Ammunitions Database” which shall also include ballistic records of all firearms in the possession of private individuals, legal entities and government agencies to prevent these firearms from being used in crime or falling into the wrong hands.”

The bill also requires that “All firearms in the government arsenal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines shall, without exception, be registered in the Firearms and Explosives Division of the PNP.”

A penalty of life imprisonment shall be imposed on violators who are members of the AFP,PNP or any government employee or official, whether elective of appointive.

The current outcry is good. But we can’t help echo the song of Peter, Paul and Mary:

“Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows, That too many people have died ?”

We hope the answer will not just be blown by the wind.