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Not Again?

By Erik Espina

THERE is a member of the “High Bench” who enjoys the privilege of, if memory serves, 40 PTCFORs (Permit to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence). While I am aware, former Defense Secretaries and AFP/PNP chiefs have no permits to protect their lives and family despite many years of sterling service to said institutions, and to the country. That is the reality of “incumbency.” Gravity moves in the corridor of power.

With successive gun related violence witnessed by a glued public of prominent personalities etc., I hope the knee-jerk reaction of restricting standing policies and permits on firearms does not take the convenient hit. In the past, the PNP hammered on law-abiding gun holders to find an excuse, they are sensitive to the howl of their bosses and certain sectors over the proliferation of illegal firearms. They want to be seen as engaged and doing something to prevent lawlessness. They simply miss the point when the operative word is “illegal firearms.” The wisdom in a gun license, to include a permit, is precisely for self-defense. And to be able to identify the real owners or end-users of the firearms, if and when employed in an incident, gun records e.g. ballistics etc. will help reveal the suspect. All else considered, with the battery of gun seminars, psychological and drug tests, the real problem is not in the licensed gun holders or permits. The greater hurdle is in the illegal manufacture of backyard weapons, illegal sale of government owned firearms/ammunition, and failure to verify/validate the end-users, particularly, of bulk -arms sales. This is not to forget, other forms of sourcing illegal firearms – balikbayan boxes, foreign weapons landed via our porous shores, captured long arms from previous encounters with government forces, and successful raids against plantation guards and PNP outposts. Despite the provincial caravans, Crame must institutionally devolve the gun licensing/permits at Regional Level, with automatic review in Manila. Fees paid to a Crame account. They better fix it or else, when they retire, and the faces taking-over are younger batches, they too will be demoted mortals, toothless before criminals.