What gun problem?

Posted at 01/09/2013 5:16 PM | Updated as of 01/09/2013 9:29 PM

Here in the Philippines, we have no gun problem.

What we have is an ammunition problem. Where do we get enough rounds to feed all our guns?

Filipinos bristle with weaponry: go to the malls and what do you see at the entrances? Guards with shotguns. In front of office buildings, restaurants and fast food chains? Guards with automatic pistols. And in front of banks? Hups, better duck quickly, there's an ongoing gun battle between robbers and the bank security. It seems both sides are using assault rifles and submachine guns.

According to government officials, the country has one million licensed firearms, and another 600,000 unlicensed ones. The President owns guns. Politicians have guns. Their guards have guns. Ordinary citizens, criminals in the city as well as rebels in the mountains and rainforests all have guns.

A certain former Supreme Court justice who was heavily into foreign exchange transactions owned 31 firearms as of last year, many of them high-powered weapons, and some of them with expired licenses. Perhaps Lady Justice needs an upgrade: instead of a sword, she should tote an Ultimax light machine gun.

Just about the only ones who don't pack heat are priests, which is almost too bad, because those robes they wear would probably provide ideal concealment for the average three or four guns many Filipinos feel entitled to. Although, a few weeks ago, I did see a picture of some bishops blessing the Army's newly arrived sniper rifles, so I guess we can count the Church as favorably disposed to firepower .

Anyway, when your national leaders, politicians, government officials, security guards and citizens are all armed, you can be sure they're sending the right message to the youth -- a message which says "open fire."

What do all these armed people feel? What goes thru the mind of a bank guard who carries a deadly military-style assault rifle in the midst of customers? I'm just guessing here, but one thought would probably be -- considering that some bank robbers use grenade launchers -- "I wish I had a heavy machine gun."

There have been numerous attempts to control guns in the last few decades but they've gone nowhere, and why shouldn't they? Think of the chaos a ban would inflict on the country.

First of all, we have to consider the worst-case scenarios. For example, the reason it's a good idea to have mall guards heavily armed with shotguns is that we never know when our shopping centers will be attacked by zombies and walking dead (they've already taken over the Senate).

Second, think about what a typical election would be like without the signature theme, "Guns, Goons & Gold"? You'd have to rewrite it to "Knives, Goons & Gold" and that concept just doesn't track. I'm not necessarily saying that guns are essential to politics but generations ago, as a youth, the ousted dictator and currently dead and gelatinous Ferdinand Marcos, allegedly settled a political problem by taking a military rifle and assassinating his father's political rival. Marcos went on to become President.

And what self-respecting political warlord would be able to conduct a proper bloody massacre without automatic weapons? It's hard to chase and kill people with just a backhoe.

Finally, think of the inconvenience of not having firearms. Who hasn't heard of stories of some person who, irritated by the loud noise the neighbors are making, pulls out a gun and fires into the air, thereby bringing quiet back to the area? You can't get that sort of effect with a club.

One night some years back, policemen picked up a group of young men who were prowling a posh Manila subdivision armed with sniper rifles. The youths, who turned out to be related to a powerful politician, were asked what they were up to. Hunting rats, they said. They were released without any punishment. Who would have thought? The next time I have a rodent problem in my house, I'll be sending for a SWAT team.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.