A police reporter talks about guns

Alcuin Papa

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I could have killed someone, ruined his life and his family's, and mine as well. I suddenly felt unsafe carrying my pistol around.

Alcuin PapaAs a new police reporter many years ago, I got a 9-mm pistol as a gift from my father. He figured it was for my protection because of this romantic notion that a reporter’s job is dangerous.

I eagerly soaked up the gun culture. Shooting at the range, I was intoxicated by the smell of gunpowder. I prowled gun shows mesmerized. I read up on the different kinds of guns and knew the different kinds of bullets.
Then one night, I almost drew my gun in a traffic altercation. Thankfully, nothing happened. I went home disturbed. I could have killed someone, ruined his life and his family’s, and mine as well. I suddenly felt unsafe carrying my pistol around.

From then on, the gun stayed at home. But I still felt unsafe. Later, I sold it. And I still think it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

I used to think that random gun massacres like those in the US would never happen in the Philippines. Our close family and neighborhood ties would never spawn the kind of loners who go on senseless shooting sprees.

After Sandy Hook, I thought we shouldn’t wait for something like that to happen here. That it was time for a total ban on assault weapons in the country or even strict regulations similar to those in Japan and Australia.

But the Cavite massacre and even the death of 7-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella have shown us senseless gun deaths can occur here. And we have even more dangerous ingredients for such incidents: a proliferation of illegal drugs, lax gun control, poor law enforcement, and most of all, a proliferation of guns.

Naturally, gun advocates want to “gun the ban” and are coming out firing against stricter gun control.

Guns’ sole purpose

“Guns don’t kill people, people do,” they say. A compelling argument, yes. But this graph will show that when Americans decide to kill people, or themselves, they will reach for a gun. Okay, that’s America. But it’s simple logic really: more guns equals more deaths.

Advocates say we should ban cars and knives as well since these also kill. But knives and cars were meant for other purposes. Guns have only one purpose, to kill and to kill quickly and efficiently. And what about that guy in China who went to a pre-school with a knife and went after the kids? How many kids died there? Zero.

Advocates are also pushing for responsible gun ownership. Ronald Bae got licenses for some of his guns. So the assumption was that he was a responsible gun owner. And let’s get real. I know many gun owners, including some members of the media, who are not exactly paragons of responsible gun ownership: a dash of arrogance, machismo and temperamental streaks prone to ending discussions with pronouncements like “Barilin na lang ang mga ‘yan (Just shoot them).” Shocking.

Advocates say we need to protect ourselves from criminals because police can’t protect us. Again, let’s get real. How many times in our lifetime are we likely to draw and fire our guns against criminals? I knew a guy who brought his gun every day while commuting. One day, the FX he was riding was victimized by a holdup gang. Was he able to draw his gun? Nope.

In the Philippines, we’ve probably heard of stories about armed private citizens foiling an attacking criminal. I was a police reporter for a long time and I can say those stories are few and far between. More often than not, citizens who shoot it out with their assassins end up dead.

Keep the gun at home and locked up in a safe? There are also a lot of stories about guns accidentally going off and killing innocent people, including children. A firearm inside a home is 22 times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting. Not safe at all.

Some journalists say they have to arm themselves because their job makes them enemies. Do they really believe they will be able to draw their firearm to protect themselves from a well-planned, well-prepared assassination attempt?

How many times has a journalist been successful in foiling an attack? Besides, the best protection a journalist has is the truth and fairness in the performance of his calling. Talk about paranoia.

In the aftermath of the Cavite massacre and the death of Stephanie Ella, the conversation on gun control is already fading. The Palace has already said the President is still studying such measures. By the way, the Chief Executive is a known shooting aficionado who won a recent shooting competition at the height of the debate on gun control. – Rappler.com

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