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Fatal shootings prompt calls for gun control


07:34 PM January 5th, 2013

By: Christian Esguerra, January 5th, 2013 07:34 PM

Photo by Jong Manlapaz/Radyo INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—The New Year’s Eve revelry firing that killed Stephanie Nicole Ella and more recently, the shooting rampage that left at least eight people dead in Cavite, have drawn attention to a number of gun control measures that have been rotting in Congress.

Among them is the proposed Citizen’s Protection Act of 2010, petition filed by prolife groups and signed by 86 Catholic bishops, including former Senators Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Aquilino Pimentel Jr., and Wigberto Tañada.

Filed as an “indirect initiative,” the bill seeks to limit possession of firearms in public places to “those directly and primarily engaged in police, military, and security matters.”

“Possession by civilians or private persons of such deadly weapons is not a matter of right,” it said. “It assumes the predominance in our society of the law of the jungle tacitly encouraging a ‘war of all against all’ and ‘every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,’ rather than indicating trust in the government and our duly constituted authorities.”

“Society can take no shorter route to anarchy than this road,” the proposal added.

But two years since the measure was filed, Congress was yet to take action, said JC de los Reyes, president of Ang Kapatiran Party, which was among the petitioners.

“Culture always cascades from the top and when you have a gun collector for a president, can you expect a culture of roses?” he told the Inquirer, referring to President Aquino, a gun enthusiast.

In a letter to the President the following year, the petitioners asked Mr. Aquino to certify the bill as urgent so it could be immediately approved both by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“The bill will make the harmless act of carrying a gun in public places a criminal offense (mala prohibita) before such harmless act turns into a violent crime,” the President was told.

“Mr. President, we look to your leadership to help us realize our collective dream of genuine peace,” the signatories added.

A wayward bullet killed Ella, 7, who was watching fireworks outside her family’s house in Malaria District, Caloocan. Four days later in Kawit, Cavite, Ronald Bae ran amuck and began shooting anyone that crossed his path. Besides the seven fatalities, eight other people were wounded.

A related bill was filed by Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her son, Camarines Sur Representative Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo.

Their proposed “Child Safety Firearms Act” seeks to “reduce if not eliminate injuries and deaths caused by accidental firearm shootings by children by making safety devices in firearms a condition before they can be sold or imported.”

A firearm, for instance, should include a device or mechanism preventing a “child of less than 7 years of age from discharging the firearm by reason of the amount of strength, dexterity, cognitive skill, or other ability required to cause a discharge.”

The device should also keep a “removable magazine from discharging when the magazine has been removed.”

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