RP’s Guns and Crimes: A Reality Check
Unknown to many, gun control is not a new phenomenon. Weapon restriction is actually one of the oldest political policies imposed by totalitarian regimes, kingdoms and societies in the past.
One of the earliest forms of ‘gun’ control was implemented about 2,000 years ago by the Romans. Of course, guns and ammunition were not yet invented during the Pax Romana period so the Roman rulers, who wanted to keep their power, passed a law that banned military arms from crossing the Rubicon. This prohibitive law was however circumvented by Julius Caesar who kept and used a standing army to grab the emperorship of Rome.
During the past century, despotic regimes in Germany (the Nazis), Soviet Russia (the communists), Italy (the fascists), China (the social-Maoists), and other parts of the world passed laws that banned and criminalized possession and carrying of firearms. I believe that if the Jews owned guns, they could have prevented the Holocaust. The people in Ukraine could also have prevented the Soviet’s holodomor (hunger-extermination) that killed around 7 million disarmed men and women, including children, from 1932 to 1933.
History has it that dictators and evil regimes in the past had to control guns and weapons first before finally implementing their insidious, immoral social agenda. Those bans were always made in the name of national security or public safety. Without a doubt, gun ban led to the death of hundreds of millions of disarmed/unarmed individuals throughout the world in the past century.
Yet many Filipinos support gun ban to guarantee what they call collective protection and security. In fact, a 2000 pre-election survey showed that at least 83% of adult Filipino voters called for a more restrictive gun policy. They believed that only law enforcers and licensed security personnel should be allowed to own and carry firearms in public places. Only 16% of the respondents supported the right to bear and carry a licensed firearm.
In the aftermath of the tragic Connecticut school shooting that took place in a gun-free zone, the Philippine media joined America’s gun-grabbing liberals and democrats in calling for stricter gun control laws or even gun confiscation.
For example, this Inquirer editorial concludes that more guns means more crimes. The Inquirer editorial writer is fully aware of incidents of mass shootings in the country and of the fact that “most of the deadly weapons are mostly in the hands of politicians and their private armies, or criminal syndicates in cahoots with corrupt personnel in the police and military forces.” However, the Inquirer’s most obvious solution to this problem is gun ban–or perhaps even gun confiscation despite the fact that guns and ammunition are already part of human reality.
The Inquirer says:
“Neither reality is desirable—but if Filipinos must learn a lesson from America’s continuing tragedy, it is that the proliferation of firearms, whether in the hands of ordinary citizens (notice that most mass shooters have no prior record before their shooting spree?) or the sprawling private armies of politicians, cannot be tolerated in a society dedicated to peaceful democratic discourse. Reaching for a gun, and killing with one, becomes so much easier if the firearm is indeed nearby.”
The basic truth is– criminals don’t obey the law. Disarming innocent individuals who did not commit crimes does not protect them against criminals who refuse to surrender their guns or who obtained their guns from the black market or ‘illegal’ sources.
A lot of misinformation have also been made about the country’s gun laws and so-called gun culture. Consider this blog, written about a few days after the infamous August 23, 2010 Manila hostage crisis, that made the following utterly erroneous, non-factual claim: “In the Philippines you have the right to bear arms.“
It is very obvious that the blogger is totally ignorant of the existing gun laws in the country.
Also in 2010 the Inquirer published this editorial that called for stricter gun control policies. This media organization supported the proposed measure that only “those directly and primarily engaged in police, military or security services” could carry firearms and other deadly weapons.
According to the Philippine National Police statistics, there were about 1.2 million loose firearms in 2009 (it was not mentioned if those firearms were licensed or not) and that 97.7 percent of gun-related crimes from 2004 to 2008 were linked to loose firearms. This made the Philippines the 10th in gun homicide rates worldwide.
Inquirer then states that “we should learn from the experience of our neighbors like Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea which strictly enforce laws on the carrying of firearms in public.”
Neal Cruz, an Inquirer opinion writer, made the same statement in 2011, saying the country was number one in the world in the number of gun-related violence, while Japan has the lowest gun-related crime rate.
The reason is obvious, he said, adding “Japan has strict gun control laws while the US, and the Philippines have very liberal ones.”
Really? Liberal in what way? Is it liberal because the government does not implement total confiscation of privately owned guns?
What Mr. Cruz said is actually not supported by facts. He was simply trying to use the long-debunked rhetoric that gun control laws lessen gun-related crimes and violence. There is absolutely no correlation between gun
control and lower gun-related crime rates. The best argument against this fallacious rhetoric is the case of Switzerland, which has one of the highest gun ownership per capita and lowest gun-related crime rates in the world.
He further said: “Because of the massacres and the very big number of crimes with the use of guns, the US population has been crying for stricter gun laws and Congress has been trying to enact them, but the National Rifle and Pistol Association (NRPA) has a strong lobby against laws that would curtail the right of citizens to bear arms which, they say, is guaranteed by the American Constitution.”
Again what he said is not supported by facts. How is U.S. gun violence actually compared with the rest of the world?
It may be true that the United States has notoriously liberal gun control laws and the highest rate of gun ownership (an average of 88 per 100 people), but it certainly doesn’t have the highest gun-related violence rate in the world.
As this Washington Post news article shows, countries with the highest gun ownership is not actually the most violent.
Washington Post states:
“The dubious distinction of having the most gun violence goes to Honduras, at 68.43 homicides by firearm per 100,000 people, even though it only has 6.2 firearms per 100 people. Other parts of South America and South Africa also rank highly, while the United States is somewhere near the mid-range.”
Mass shootings and massacres were also rampant in Europe. For example, all of the following mass murders (which is just a partial list) took place in gun-free zones in Europe since 2001:
- Zug, Switzerland, September 27, 2001: a man murdered 15 members of a cantonal parliament.
- Tours, France, October 29, 2001: four people were killed and 10 wounded when a French railway worker started killing people at a busy intersection in the city.
- Nanterre, France, March 27, 2002: a man kills eight city councilors after a city council meeting.
- Erfurt, Germany on April 26, 2002: a former student kills 18 at a secondary school.
- Freising, Germany on February 19, 2002: Three people killed and one wounded.
- Turin, Italy on October 15, 2002: Seven people were killed on a hillside overlooking the city.
- Madrid, Spain, October 1, 2006: a man kills two employees and wounds another at a company that he was fired from.
- Emsdetten, Germany, November 20, 2006: a former student murders 11 people at a high school.
- Southern Finland, November 7, 2007: Seven students and the principal were killed at a high school.
- Naples, Italy, September 18, 2008: Seven dead and two seriously wounded in a public meeting hall (not included in totals below because it may possibly have involved the mafia).
- Kauhajoki, Finland, Sept. 23, 2008: 10 people were shot to death at a college.
- Winnenden, Germany, March 11, 2009: a 17-year-old former student killed 15 people, including nine students and three teachers.
- Lyon, France, March 19, 2009: ten people injured after a man opened fire on a nursery school.
- Athens, Greece, April 10, 2009: three people killed and two people injured by a student at a vocational college.
- Rotterdam, Netherlands, April 11, 2009: three people killed and 1 injured at a crowded cafe.
- Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2009: one dead and 16 wounded in an attack on a Sikh Temple.
- Espoo, Finland, Dec. 31, 2009: 4 killed while shopping at a mall on New Year’s Eve.
- Cumbria, England, June 2, 2010: 12 people killed by a British taxi driver.
I think the only reason why a lot of people blame liberal or less strict gun laws and America’s alleged violent gun culture is the media. Undoubtedly the media (both American media and Philippine media) is full of gun-grabbing intellectuals. Like the global warming alarmists who spin every catastrophic natural calamity to justify more environmental regulations and carbon tax and restrictions, the gun-grabbers also shamelessly exploit every shooting incident that takes place in a gun free zone to push for their gun control and confiscation laws.
But since most of Filipino gun-grabbers don’t know the facts, I think it is necessary to discuss our gun laws and directives.
Let’s look at the basic facts first:
- Number of Privately Owned Firearms: 3,900,000
- Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population: 4.7%
- Number of Privately Owned Firearms – World Ranking: 20
- Number of Licensed Firearm Owners: 358,934
- Number of Registered Firearms: 775,000
- Number of homicide by firearm: 7,349
The existing gun laws in the country reveals whether there’s a truth to the gun-grabbers’ claim that gun ban is the solution to our increasing (or fluctuating) gun-related crime rates.
In 1983, Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1866 that codified all laws relating to firearms and ammunition. The reason for the enactment of this decree was “an upsurge of crimes vitally affecting public order and safety due to the proliferation of illegally possessed and manufactured firearms, ammunition and explosives.”
This Marcosian law criminalized the “manufacture,sale, acquisition, disposition or possession of firearms or ammunition or instruments used or Intended to be used in the manufacture of firearms of ammunition.”
In 1997, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8294 amended P.D. 1866. The new law imposes a penalty of prision correccional in its maximum and a fine of not less than P15,000 (replacing the previous penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua) “upon any person who shall unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose or possess any low-powered firearm such as rim fire handgun, 380 or 32 and other firearm of similar firepower, part of firearm, ammunition or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in the manufacture of any firearm or ammunition.”
The law also defines the term “unlicensed firearm” in the following manner:
- firearms with expired license; or
- unauthorized use of licensed firearm in the commission of the crime.
With respect to the definition of ‘firearms’, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of PD 1866 provides the following definition: a firearm “includes rifles, muskets, carbines, shotguns, revolvers, pistols and all other deadly weapons from which a bullet, ball, shot, shell or other missile may be discharged by means of gunpowder or other explosives. The term also includes air rifles and air pistols not classified as toys under the provisions of Executive Order No. 712 dated 28 July 1981. The barrel of any firearm shall be considered a complete firearm.”
Observe that even air rifles and air pistols are considered by the Philippine gun laws as firearms, as long as they are not classified as toys under Executive Order (EO) No. 712. This Marcosian decree states that “the proliferation and the indiscriminate use of such types of air rifles/pistols could pose a grave menace to society and the maintenance of peace and order; hence, the need to regulate the manufacture, sale and possession of air rifles/pistols.”
In 2007, then police Director General Avelino Razon revived Marcos’s E.O. No. 712 by issuing Philippine National Police Circular No. 11 in 2007, which mandated that air rifles/pistols and airsoft guns be treated as firearms with respect to their licensing, possession, manufacture and transport.
I repeat: airsoft guns are considered weapons under Philippine law.
In 2010, the Commission on Election’s Resolution No. 8714 was challenged via a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court. The said resolution provides that the term “firearm” includes airsoft guns and their replicas/imitations, which results in their coverage by the gun ban during the 2010 election period.
The high court ruled in favor of the Comelec, saying the election body “was mandated to provide the details of who may bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons, as well as the definition of “firearms,” among others.
Under Philippine law, the Comelec has the power to issue gun ban and to turn the entire Philippine archipelago into a gun-free zone. This power is laid down in R.A. No. 7166 (An Act Providing for Synchronized National and Local Elections and for Electoral Reforms, Authorizing Appropriations Therefor, and for Other Purposes), which provides:
SEC. 32. Who May Bear Firearms. − During the election period, no person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons in public places, including any building, street, park, private vehicle or public conveyance, even if licensed to possess or carry the same, unless authorized in writing by the Commission. The issuance of firearms licenses shall be suspended during the election period.
Only regular members or officers of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement agencies of the Government who are duly deputized in writing by the Commission for election duty may be authorized to carry and possess firearms during the election period: Provided, That, when in the possession of firearms, the deputized law enforcement officer must be: (a) in full uniform showing clearly and legibly his name, rank and serial number, which shall remain visible at all times; and (b) in the actual performance of his election duty in the specific area designated by the Commission.
x x x x
SEC. 35. Rules and Regulations. — The Commission shall issue rules and regulations to implement this Act. Said rules shall be published in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation.
The following laws, rules or policies show that the Philippines is very strict when it comes to gun ownership and carrying:
- Rules and regulations on carrying of firearms.
- Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the ban of firearms and other deadly weapons.
- Amendment to the Comelec on the suspension of firearms permits
Apart from banning guns and related weapons, the Philippine law also outlaws possession of bladed, pointed and blunt weapons. Batasang Pambasan (B.P.) No. 6, issued in 1978, provides, to wit:
“It is unlawful to carry outside of one’s residence any bladed, pointed or blunt weapon such as “knife”, “spear”, “pana”, “dagger”, “bolo”, “barong”, “kris”, or “chako”, except where such articles are being used as necessary tools or implements to earn a livelihood or in pursuit of a lawful activity. Any person found guilty thereof shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than one month nor more than one year or a fine of not less than Two Hundred Pesos nor more than Two Thousand Pesos, or both such imprisonment and fine as the Court may direct.”
Despite these tons of regulations and gun restrictions, why do we still have one of the highest gun-related deaths and violence rates in the world?
Yes, we also had our own tragic cases of mass shootings. Remember the Manila hostage crisis in 2010? What aggravated this crisis in the first place? It’s the sheer incompetence of the police! Yet it’s very ironic that many Filipinos still call for gun ban or stricter gun laws and want to entrust their lives and security in the hands of our incompetent police force! Many members of the police are not just poorly trained and incompetent; some of them are corrupt and notorious for extortion as well. Remember that the mass shooter, Rolando Mendoza, was himself a former commissioned police officer.
How about the November 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre that killed 58 unarmed people?
What many people don’t know is that the main perpetrators– some members of the Ampatuan political clan– were armed by the Arroyo regime. The previous government was indirectly responsible for the massacre for
issuing Executive Order 546, which allowed local officials to form the civilian volunteer organizations (CVO). As a result, political clans in Mindanao, like the Ampatuans, were authorized to build their own private armies, allowing local officials and the PNP to deputize barangay tanods as “force multipliers” or additional reinforcement in the fight against insurgents.In essence, the executive order allows local executives to convert their private armies into legal entities called the CVO.
If the government could arm notorious, murderous, corrupt political warlords in this country, why can’t we arm ourselves? Why can’t we own and carry guns to defend ourselves against criminals and our own government, should it turn to tyranny?
Now, someone on Facebook asked the following question: “Essentially, Froi, are you saying that everybody should have a gun?
I gave the following answer:
There are of course ‘logical’ limits… Limits that should be in sync with reality and practical logic. For example, children cannot own guns due to their immaturity and tender age. Mentally ill people should also be prohibited to own guns due to their state of mental health. This principle is actually consistent with certain provisions in the Revised Penal Code, which we borrowed from the Americans. Notice that the RPC considers age, mental health and certain circumstances in determining whether a perpetrator should be punished or not.
However, I believe in gun registration. But this registration system should be properly understood as PROPERTY registration, not a form of regulation. Also, parents should be allowed to teach their children how to use guns. But children cannot register yet.
Here’s a question or statement to Filipino gun-grabbers:
I still don’t get it… You want to disarm yourselves and others who obey the law and entrust only your lives and safety, including those of your children and loved ones, in the hands of our corrupt, tyrannical politicians and incompetent, poorly trained and extortionist members of the police and military? You want to disarm all law abiding citizens, depriving them of their right to sufficient self-defense, when you know full well that criminals don’t obey the law and will still get guns and use them?
Meanwhile on Twitter…
More fun in the Philippines?
Liberal gun-grabber and British citizen Piers Morgan twitted:
“If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?
I think it’s Mr. Morgan’s gun ban that causes more crimes and gun-related murders.
@JoannaAicher: “DO NOT COME BAVK TO ENGLAND. Heard Afghanistan is nice?”
@BusbyMUFC: “No. Cos you’re a cunt.” @MrJulesKnight: “get back to the UK! there’s a pint waiting in the Hansom Cab with your name on. . .”
- … and Gregorio Larrazabal: “The Philippines! “It’s more FUN in the Philippines!”
Morgan responded to Larrazabal, a former Comelec commissioner, who did not only support but also imposed nationwide gun ban in the Philippines:
Well, should Mr. Morgan decide to migrate and work as a media man or TV anchor in the Philippines, he’s lucky his chosen profession is not among those professions under Negative List A. Even so, Mr. Morgan has to comply with Section 1 of R. A. No. 5181 prescribing permanent residence and reciprocity as qualifications for any examination or registration for the practice of any profession in the country. The law states, to wit:
Section 1. No person shall be allowed to practice any profession in the Philippines unless he has complied with the existing laws and regulations, is a permanent resident therein for at least three years, and, if he is an alien, the country of which he is a subject or citizen permits Filipinos to practice their respective professions within its territories: Provided, That the practice of said professions is not limited by law to citizens of the Philippines: Provided, further, That Filipinos who became American nationals by reason of service in the Armed Forces of the United States during the Second World War and aliens who were admitted into the practice of their profession before July 4, 1946 shall be exempted from the restriction provided herein.
Good luck, Mr. Morgan.
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