Stiffer penalties sought for irresponsible gun owners
As another child fought for her life after falling victim to a stray bullet during the New Year revelry, a senator on Tuesday called for stiffer penalties against irresponsible gun owners, citing a measure he filed ahead of the holidays.
“I am so sad that this happened again to an innocent girl. She was defenseless. How are we all supposed to feel safe every New Year revelry if these things happen?” said Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian.
Gatchalian expressed sadness over the wounding of 15-year-old Emilyn Villanueva, who remains in critical condition after she was hit by a stray bullet on New Year’s Eve.
He recalled that in 2013, he visited the family of Stephanie Nicole Ella, after a stray bullet killed the 7-year-old during the celebration. The shooter has yet to be identified to this day.
“I remember a young girl from Caloocan also died because of indiscriminate firing a few years (ago). I personally went to visit that girl and her family, they were really unfortunate,” said Gatchalian, who was at the time mayor of neighboring Valenzuela City.
Gatchalian’s Senate Bill No. 1008 seeks to amend the Revised Penal Code. The proposed measure seeks to punish an individual found guilty of discharging a firearm with the maximum penalty of six years, from the current “minimum and medium periods” starting from six months and one day in jail.
The proposal also hopes to impose a specific penalty against law enforcers or soldiers who would discharge their firearms, mandating the maximum jail time under reclusion temporal, equivalent to 20 years behind bars.
Any firearm discharge that results in death shall be punished by reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in jail, according to the bill which was filed in August last year.
Gatchalian also proposed other measures, including enhancing the police database of firearms and ammunition, which could lead to better
tracing of weapons involved in a crime amid the proliferation of unlicensed firearms across the country.
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