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Our Gun Culture


The present nationwide upsurge in crimes has prompted a small clamor for a total gun ban. Indeed, holduppers armed with pistols nowadays strike even in broad daylight in public places.  Here in Mindanao private armies with meaner firearms massacre people with impunity while kidnappers armed to the teeth roam the countryside to pick up victims.

According to official data revealed in a recent news report, there are over a million registered firearms, two-thirds of which are in the hands of civilians.  Loose, unregistered weapons probably number in a few hundreds of thousands more, which are used by bandits, terrorists, and criminals or kept by ordinary civilians.

“The easy availability of guns, according to Ateneo de Manila University professor Jennifer Santiago Oreta, tends to increase the incidence of violence against the civilian population”, the report said.  It further quoted the professor as saying that “Mere possession of a gun emboldens one to take drastic action”.   The Ampatuan massacre is one, though extreme, demonstration of that truth.

In 2002, the report noted, the Philippines ranked fifth globally in terms of murder committed with the use of firearms – and that wasn’t even an election year and years before the Maguindanao atrocities.

There is no question that  the move to ban totally the possession or carrying of firearms by civilians, and that is, other than military men and  law enforcers, is full of merit and logic as a means to curb our high level of criminality.  It can also lead to the reduction of corruption in government or conserve the environment because a gun ban will deprive high government officials of the means to coerce other people who will otherwise blow the whistle or refuse to accede to their crime.

Many of the more peaceful nations around the world strictly restrict the ownership or use of firearms. 

In contrast, in our country and others like the United States, which is also among the top five in the number of murders committed with the use of firearms, ownership is considered a Constitutional right.

Centuries of rebellion, feudalism and political patronage backed by violence has also made gunslinging an ingrained feature of Filipino culture.  Nonetheless, a sudden, radical or paradigm shift of the national perspective in regard to this overwhelming problem is possible and would be a means way for people to become promptly more trusting and peaceful towards one another. (Peace Advocates Zamboanga)


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