“An insecure government is afraid of an armed citizenry.”
With this as their battle cry, thousands of licensed gun owners are organizing big protest rallies nationwide to express their opposition to the government’s antigun policies and proposed measures that they described as threats to their rights to defend themselves and their families.
Several progun groups are also wondering why the government is rushing antigun measures, citing, among others, the establishment of gun-free zones, the ban on the tucking of gun (inside waistband-outside waistband); the proposed total gun ban during elections; the proposal to pass a law that will make illegal possession of firearm a nonbailable offense; and, the latest, a proposed bill in the House of Representatives, to further limit ownership and use of weapons by peaceful and responsible citizens.
The gun-free zones was reportedly proposed by the antigun group International Action Network on Small Arms, which is very active in lobbying for antigun measures not only in the country but worldwide.
The group is said to be well-funded and well-connected, internationally, the reason government officials are giving in to the group’s pressure.
Airsoft groups have vowed to join the protest as they themselves are affected by antigun policies.
As a prelude to the big rally, Internet forums and social-networking sites were flooded by opposition to these antigun policies and threatened to fight them tooth and nail.
House Bill 6658, authored by Lakas Rep. Pedro Romualdo of Camiguin, seeks stricter gun control that included airsoft guns.
As embodied in the bill, all airsoft guns, and all gas- and spring-operated pistols and rifles will now be classified as real firearms.
Also, the bill provides that if a person is with a group of people when caught with an unlicensed firearm or parts of a gun, with or without the knowledge of his companions, the group will be presumed to be in illegal possession of firearms, and shall be all be charged accordingly.
Penalties were also increased in the proposed bill, such as life imprisonment for illegal possession or manufacture of firearms or light weapons, six to 18 years for illegal possession of ammunition, including blanks, as well as noxious liquid and gas dispensers.
Illegal possession of firearms shall now be considered as a separate and distinct penalty if any other crime is committed in the same act. Thus, a person can be charged twice for the same act and be slapped with two penalties.
“Light weapons” are now defined and prohibited, which include any weapon capable of holding a “drum” magazine, which would include practically all semiautomatic rifles, including rimfire caliber .22s.
During a public hearing of the House Committee on Public Order and Safety, members of the Peaceful and Responsible Owners of Guns (ProGUN) and other stakeholders in the firearm industry were invited to give their views on HB 6658, but were dismayed when the panel did not allow any of those invited to speak.
They were supposed to read the lengthy position paper on the flawed provisions of the bill.
Instead, Lakas-Kampi-CMD Rep. Rodolfo Antonino of Nueva Ecija, committee chairman, allowed a few short comments from members of the panel before voting to approve the measure.
Later, when one of the members of ProGUN called a member of the committee and inquired why the bill was bing railroaded, the legislator purportedly told him: “That’s a Malacañang-backed bill. The Office of the President made direct contact with the congressmen [not him] to approve that bill.”
Moderators and members of pinoyguns.com are enraged over these gun policies and are presently coordinating with ProGUN officials and several groups to iron out the planned big protest rallies.
“Politicians who have totalitarian tendencies prefer unarmed citizens.… It is these same politicians who are willing to do anything, by hook or by crook, to get what they want, even if it means sacrificing someone else, in this case, these politicians want to sacrifice our God-given right to bear arms [although this is considered a privilege here in the Philippines] and our safety to further their own ambitions,” commented one of the members.
Earlier, the Association of Firearms and Ammunitions Dealers of the Philippines (Afad), reacting to the recent call of President Arroyo to “look into legislation that can tackle access to firearms and bring their availability under control” while, at the same time, to “look at new, stiffer penalties for anyone using a firearm when committing a crime,” said legislators should distinguish between loose firearms in the hands of criminals and licensed firearms in the hands of peace-loving citizens.
Nereo “Neri” Dionisio, Afad chairman, said a check with the record of the National Police Firearms and Explosives Division will show that only 12 licensed firearms, as against 1,719 unlicensed firearms, were involved in criminal cases last year.
“Further scrutiny into these records should reveal that these 12 cases involve minor infractions of gun laws and not related to murders of journalists and high-profile personalities,” Dionisio said.