President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday balked at the idea of imposing a total gun ban in the country, saying that a law to reform outlaws is futile. “By definition, lahat itong gumagawa ng krimen---outlaw. So a law that seeks to reform the outlaws will not work,” Aquino, a known gun enthusiast, said in an interview with reporters in Malacañang.

Instead, the President said stricter laws penalizing gun owners who violate the privilege should be studied, and strictly enforced. “It sounds nice, total gun ban, but the total does not happen because the outlaw will not. So we will not stop in our pursuit to [apprehend] these people who are outside of the law and get them before the bars of justice,“ Aquino said. “Magandang headline, pero knee-jerk reaction eh. Hindi ko ugaling mambola. Maghanap tayo ng paraan na talagang maso-solve iyong isyu at hindi nagpapa-cute lang,” Aquino added.

Calls for stricter gun control came following the public outrage over the death of seven-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella due to a stray bullet in Caloocan City during the New Year revelry and the killing of two other minors in a shooting spree in Cavite.

Several lawmakers have also voiced contrasting opinions regarding gun control in the country.

US studies But Aquino said that he has read several studies in America that have cited increased crime rates in areas where stricter gun control laws exist. “There are so many studies that have said this several times, in America, for instance, areas where they have liberalized ‘yung tinatawag na concealed carrying weapon permits [have ] dropped in crime statistics. Areas na naghigpit have seen an increase,” Aquino said. The President added that strict gun laws disallowing the legal acquisition of guns will only be beneficial to ‘outlaws’ who already possess guns in the first place. “So I think, a lot of us will agree with the basic premise na ‘yung outlaw will be one of the first or first groups that will say, ‘thank you na madidisarmahan ‘yung law-abiding citizen dahil mas madali na silang mabiktima,’” Aquino said. Instead, Aquino said that his administration will remain steadfast in weeding out private armies, which contribute to high crime rates in the country. “Habulin natin [ang] private armed groups, dahil palagay natin, ito ang pinaka-violent at pinaka-threat sa society,” he said. “‘Yung private armed groups, there really is a dedicated effort to go after them. I think we have had notable successes in driving them away from areas where they operate and that does not mean that we’re stopping,” he added. Aquino also said that his anti-corruption efforts will continue to further discourage violence in the country. “Talagang seryoso tayo doon sa ating anti-corruption efforts so baka ‘yung iba nag-iisip kung wala silang pera pambili at pang-corrupt ng mga kung sino man ay baka daanin sa dahas. So gusto natin itong unintended consequences of the anti-corruption effort not to happen. So tuloy-tuloy ‘yung kampanya and this is nationwide,” Aquino said. Meanwhile, Aquino saw no reason for him to give up his own hobby of shooting in the face of calls for gun control in the country, saying that he has done nothing wrong to be stripped of the privilege. “I think I lead by example by performing to the law. Baka  naman, sana akusahan naman ako na may ginagawang mali para itigil iyong behavior na pinapatigil,” Aquino said. The President added that as a victim of violence during the coups against his mother in the past, he reserves the right to carry a weapon for self-defense. “I think, you will acknowledge that I was a victim  of a violence in ’87 and both [the] Church and law recognize my right to self-defense. Self-defense habit is a skill,” Aquino said. — RSJ, GMA News

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