MANILA, Philippines - The debate rages on amid calls for stricter gun control and even a total gun ban in the Philippines.
This following the death of stray bullet victim Stephanie Nicole Ella in Caloocan and the shooting rampage that left 8 people dead and 9 others hurt in Kawit, Cavite.
Nandy Pacheco, founder of the Gunless Society of the Philippines, said the group is fed up with the increasing incidence of violence caused by irresponsible gun owners.
"I think it's the culture. The culture of guns. The culture of violence that is being promoted by the government itself. Why do I say that? Gun exhibits that take place every 3 months. Selling of guns in stores. Allowing people to carry firearms," he said.
Pacheco said they want guns removed from public places and the mere carrying of guns made a criminal offense.
As a crime prevention measure, he said President Aquino should consolidate existing bills namely the Citizens Protection Act of 2010 and the Firearms Regulation Act of 2010, which is pending in the Senate.
"We are not against the keeping of licensed guns at home. We are not against the hobby of President Aquino of target-shooting. That's fine with us. He can continue and finish the task of his mother. It does not remove his right to target shoot but he must protect the citizens," he said.
Meanwhile, legitimate gun owners support proposals for stricter enforcement of gun control laws in the country.
Atty. Ernesto Tabujara, secretary general of Pro-Gun Philippines, said the country has some of the strictest requirements for attaining a gun license.
He noted some 1.5 million licensed gun owners should not bear the brunt of gun restrictions or the blame of senseless crimes.
"It is not licensed gun owners who are committing these crimes, it is the warlords, politicians or terrorists," he said.
Tabujara said their group filed a bill pushing for the proper and strict screening of gun licenses of applicants.
He said Pro-Gun Philippines is awaiting the passage of the Comprehensive Firearms Bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in 2011 and is now pending in the Senate.
ANC Headstart, January 7, 2013