‘Civilians’ guns belong in vault’


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Sen Panfilo Lacson backs calls to bar civilians from carrying guns in public

LOCK GUNS. Sen Panfilo Lacson calls for a stop to the issuance of  Permit to Carry Firearms Outside Residence for civilians. File photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines – If former police chief Sen Panfilo Lacson will have his way, only officers in uniform will be allowed to carry guns in public.

Lacson revived his call to stop the issuance of a Permit to Carry Firearms Outside Residence for civilians in order to address the series of gun-related crimes.

In a press statement on Monday, January 7, the former National Police chief said civilians must be barred from carrying firearms following the spate of gun-related crimes during the New Year revelry, and shooting rampage and shootouts in past days.

“Firearms are for self-defense and protection of properties from intruders, and not for offensive action by the possessor,” Lacson said.

“When this happens, a lot of lives can be saved and a big positive impact on the country’s peace and order will be felt by the citizenry.”

Lacson said civilians should be allowed to possess firearms provided they keep it in a vault in their homes when left unattended.

He said this will create the perception that “anyone with a firearm tucked in his waist would be presumed as a ‘bad element without doubt and therefore must be reported to authorities.’”

Lacson said he pushed for this initiative when he headed the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001.

The senator’s statement is just the latest among gun control proposals sparked by the death of 7-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella, who was hit by a stray bullet on her head during New Year’s eve.

Last Friday, January 4, a reportedly drug-crazed gunman went on a rampage and killed 7 people in Kawit, Cavite. Thirteen were also killed in a shootout between a criminal gang and police in Quezon province on Sunday, January 6.

Over the weekend, Sen Loren Legarda made a similar proposal, saying only those in police or military uniform should be allowed to carry firearms.

Yet for Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, calls for a total gun ban are “knee-jerk reactions” that would “only exacerbate the already grave peace and order problem in our country.

Sen Gregorio Honasan II, chairman of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, plans to conduct a review of all gun laws to determine whether to change these or pass better legislation.

The House of Representatives will also tackle the gun control debate once session resumes on January 21.

Catholic bishops and the Gunless Society have said it is high time for the government to adopt a total gun ban.

Malacañang, however, said the proposals must still be discussed with President Benigno Aquino III.

Death penalty? ‘Don’t overreact’

Another response to the series of gun-related crimes is the call to reimpose the death penalty.

The Palace though shot down the idea, saying Aquino’s stand is consistent that it is the certainty of punishment that will deter crime.

Sen Francis Escudero echoed Aquino’s position, pointing out that strict implementation of laws is the best deterrent.

The senator is the chairman of the committee on justice and human rights. He voted to remove the death penalty in 1990.

“Even if the death penalty is in place, criminals, especially the moneyed ones, will still find creative ways to escape the arms of the law. The likes of Jovito Palparan, charged with a non-bailable offense, the Reyes brothers of Palawan accused as masterminds in the death of a journalist and environmental advocate, and Delfin Lee, said to have bilked thousands of poor housing aspirants, where are they?”

Escudero added, “They can afford to hire good, expensive lawyers to keep them out of jail and outside the reach of the law.”

Several lawmakers in the House of Representatives like Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list Rep Sherwin Tugna and Akbayan Rep Walden Bello have also rejected the proposal to revive capital punishment.

“The death penalty does not serve as a deterrent, as so many studies have proven,” Bello said. 

“Let’s not overreact.” – Rappler.com

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