Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stiffer Penalties for Gun Violations Sought

Below is an interesting article. In my next posts, I will be rendering an opinion on the salient features House Bill 12 that seeks to impose stiffer penalties for illegal possession of firearms.

I have spoken to many owners of loose firearms and the reason why they don't register their guns is because they don't want to be tied up to the periodic renewal fees of license. There are also many persons who simultaneously own licensed guns and loose guns, even law enforcers. In my opinion, voluntary registration of loose firearm should be a year-round program that is supported by incentives. The firearm registration drive should primarily focus on the mission to register each gun for balistic identification purpose.

For the meantime, please read the article below. I find it strange for PNP to to show a data of loose firearms statistics. Allegedly, the PNP said that there are 578,585 in the national capital region. My first question is simple. How come PNP knows the number and location of these loose guns that have never passed through their registration system yet?


Stiffer penalties for illegal possession of firearms sought
By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) Updated September 26, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon has filed a bill seeking stiffer penalties for illegal possession of firearms to address the rise in criminality caused by loose firearms.

House Bill 12 seeks to regulate the illegal possession, manufacture, and distribution of firearms by amending Presidential Decree 1866, as amended by Republic Act 8294 and 9516.

Biazon noted that at least 5,999 loose firearms were used in 5,752 criminal activities in 2008 nationwide.

The bill imposes an imprisonment term of six to 12 years or prision mayor in its maximum period (10 years, 1 day to 12 years) for illegal possession of firearms. Imitation firearms, when used to commit crimes, shall be considered as real firearms.

Engaging in manufacture and sale of unlicensed firearms and ammunition is punishable by 12 to 20 years to lifetime imprisonment.

An employee of a licensed firearms dealer found illegally selling wares shall be punished with six to 12 years imprisonment or prision mayor in its medium period (8 years, 1 day to 12 years).

The bill also provides that the government has the right to confiscate firearms illegally possessed by business corporations, partnerships, or associations.

Persons caught transferring possession of firearms to those who do not have a permit to carry weapons shall be punished with six years imprisonment and revocation of license. He would likewise be disqualified from applying for a license.

Public officials or employees who register a stolen firearm shall face six to 12 years imprisonment. A licensed firearm holder who fails to report the loss of a weapon shall be penalized with a jail term of one to six months or arresto mayor (1 month, 1 day to six months) and fined P20,000.

Persons holding a valid firearm license who change residence and fail to notify the FED-PNP either in person or by registered mail within 30 days shall be penalized with arresto mayor (1 month, 1 day to 6 months).

Persons who wish to engage in the manufacture or repair of firearms and ammunition shall first secure a license from the PNP chief.

Firearms which licenses are not renewed within six months from expiration date shall be surrendered. Firearm holders who twice fail to renew their licenses within six months from date of expiration shall be permanently disqualified from applying for a license.

Citing reports by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies (GIIS), Biazon noted that some 1,110,372 loose firearms are in the hands of private armies and criminals. The number is four times larger than the combined firepower of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

PNP data shows there are some 578,585 loose firearms in the National Capital Region. Some 114,189 are supposedly possessed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is about to resume peace talks with the government, while 5,179 assorted firearms are in the hands of other threat groups in Mindanao. Criminal elements are believed to have gotten hold of 1,440 loose weapons.

Police data showed that some 101,758 loose firearms are in Region 4A; Central Luzon accounts for 78,151; Central Mindanao 62,718; Western Visayas 52,759; Central Visayas 52,732; Davao provinces 49,178; Southwestern Mindanao 45,974; Caraga Region 43,960; Eastern Visayas 43,409; Northern Mindanao 42,231; Cagayan Valley 32,326; Bicol Region 28,587; Ilocos Region 26,928; Cordillera Region 11,628 and Region 4B 8,779.