Senate Passes Stricter Gun Laws

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate has approved on third and final reading the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act (Senate Bill No. 3397) which seeks to help law enforcement agencies address the proliferation of illegal firearms.

The bill specifically seeks to repeal sections of Presidential Decree 1866, a section of Republic Act 8294, and other laws, executive orders, letters of instruction, issuances, circulars, administrative orders, rules or regulations concerning firearms and ammunition.

Under the bill, those who can apply and obtain a license to own and possess firearms must be a Filipino citizen; 21 years old; has gainful work, occupation or business; and has filed an income tax return (ITR) for the preceding year as proof of income.

Apart from that, an applicant is required to pass a psychiatric test and drug test administered by the Philippine National Police (PNP) accredited psychologist or psychiatrist.

An applicant must also have not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude and is also required to pass a gun safety seminar.

He or she is also required to state his or her personal circumstances in writing, present a police clearance from the city or municipal police office and has not been convicted or is currently an accused in a pending criminal case before any court of law for a crime that is punishable with penalty of more than two (2) years.

The bill also provides that a juridical person maintaining its own security forces may be issued a regular license to own and possess firearms and ammunitions under the following conditions: it must be Filipino-owned and duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission; it is current, operational and a continuing concern; it has completed and submitted all its reportorial requirement to SEC; and it has paid all its income taxes for the year, as duly certified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

The bill also provides that a permit to carry firearms outside of residence shall be issued by the Chief, PNP, or his duly authorized representative to any qualified person whose life is under actual threat or their lives are in imminent danger due to the nature of their profession, occupation or business.

"It shall be the burden of the applicant to prove that his life is under actual threat by submitting a threat assessment from the PNP," the law said.

But the measure recognizes the following profession, occupation or business as dangerous in nature: members of the Philippine Bar; certified public accountants (CPA); accredited media practitioners, cashiers, bank tellers, priest, minister, rabbi, imams, physicians and nurses, engineers and businessmen, who by the nature of their business or undertaking are exposed to high risk of being targets of criminal elements.

A qualified applicant may be issued appropriate license depending on at least five (5) categories.

The bill also provides that any individual who wishes to manufacture or deal in firearms, parts of firearms or ammunition shall make an application to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the PNP in the case of a license to deal in firearms and firearms parts, ammunition and gun repair.

Violators will face penalty depending on the weight of their violations. The unlawful acquisition, possession or firearms and ammunition shall be penalized from prision mayor for small firearms; reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua for 3 small arms o Class A light weapons; prision mayor for a Class A light weapon; reclusion perpetua for Class B light weapon; prision mayor who possess a major part of a small arm; prision mayor in its minimum period for Class A light weapon and prision mayor in its maximum period for Class B light weapon.

The bill also states that the use of a loose firearm, when inherent in the commission of a crime punishable under the Revised Penal Code or other special laws, shall be considered as an "aggravating circumstance."

It also imposes a fine of P10,000 and prision correctional if a gun owner is found carrying a registered firearms outside of residence without legal authority.