US President Barack Obama’s declaration that he will do whatever he can to prevent another tragedy on the scale of the Connecticut massacre that claimed the lives of more than 20 children zeroed in on gun control and how that country has made killing so easy for unstable people.
The shootings came a few months after the Denver Colorado dawn massacre that claimed several lives minutes after the “Dark Knight Rises” film showing. With these twin tragedies, the US leader is hard-pressed not to review the issue of gun control which is something that his presidency has steered clear of until now.
Gun control has been enshrined in the US constitution ever since its inception and the right to bear arms was reinforced by the influential National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby that was powerful enough to make candidates for US national office ponder twice before even thinking about a total gun ban.
That Americans can buy guns, high-powered rifles and machine guns at that with minimal requirements and even online, is just one more reason massacres like those in New Town, Connecticut and Denver happen.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to compare the issue of gun control to the ongoing national debate over the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, though in the US reproductive health issues cover territory that even proponents of the Philippine RH bill are loath to cross since they include abortion which is a non-negotiable issue in a Catholic nation like the Philippines.
Notice that in the United States, Obama is pushing for gun control, not a total gun ban while in this country where the national government deals with an existing communist insurgency, a gun ban remains a feasibile reality.
But unlike the US government which has every resource at its disposal to minimize access of high-powered weapons, the same cannot be said of the Philippines where private armies continue to stockpile firearms that can rival, if not give the military and the police a run for their money.
And even with President Benigno Aquino III signing into law the Modernization Act that would equip the military with more modern seacraft and aircraft, rebels and private armies of political warlords will continue to access weaponry, with the warlords helping themselves to the national treasury and the rebels receiving donations from sympathetic sources both domestic and international.
In Cebu, a civilian task force in Bogo is being labeled a private army by critics of Bogo Mayor Junie Martinez, who insists that they are volunteers who help keep the peace in their area. It falls on the shoulders of the national and local governments to help the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to help enforce a total gun ban even before the May 2013 elections not only to avoid tragedies like those in Connecticut but to promote a culture and climate of peace and understanding in the country.