PROGUN Reply to Kapatiran Party/ Gunless Society article in Philippine Inquirer

An article appeared today in the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper, entitled "Media Urged to Join Drive for Gun Control", featuring the Kapatiran Party/ Gunless Society's statement through its secretary general Norman Cabrera that guns are to be blamed for the killing of journalists in the Philippines.

Disregarding journalism ethics, the Inquirer did not bother to get the opposing side's view, hence this Reply. 

To begin, the Kapatiran / Gunless Society's focus on the gun and not the individual perpetrator of gun violence is a misplaced and incongruent argument. By analogy, blaming guns for the recent spate of violence against journalists is just as absurd as blaming cars for the illegal acts of drunk drivers. Being inanimate objects, guns cannot think, have no emotion, and much less can they act by themselves. Rather, the logical and proper remedy is to focus on the human actor and intervention as the cause, indentify and apprehend t7he perpetrators, and prosecute them. Kapatiran's statement is an indictment of our entire justice system as flawed, and not just guns.

It is axiomatic that the threats that journalists and mediamen receive is on account of a dangerous profession that they are in. Journalists are not alone in this regard, as lawyers, judges, prosecutors, government officials, businessmen in money-related businesses, security personnel, among others are likewise similarly under threat. In fact the current law on Firearms RA 10591 explicitly recognizes such threats to high risk professions and grants a privilege of exemption from threat assessment to such professionals for purpose of obtaining a gun carry permit. Removing this means of defense, would be to make journalists more prone than ever to be sitting ducks to persons who would mean them harm.

Kapatiran's statistics on crime incidents in the Philippine is likewise baseless. In contrast, PROGUN has made 3 country studies of the effect of gun bans in other countries, as well as two year round crime statistics projects bin 2010 and 2013, wherein individual crime incidents were tallied and correlated with the existing gun bans enforced by the COMELEC. The clear import of the crime statistics compiled by PROGUN was that the COMELEC gun ban did not have any effect in preventing or deterrring the commission of crimes, as in fact the crime rates even went significantly higher during the gun ban period. Criminals continued to wield illegal guns during the gun ban period, and election and common crimes continued unabated.

The Kapatiran Party's call for a total gun ban sounds chillingly familiar to that declared by dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1972 in his infamous General Order no. 1. The first order of the dictator was to order the surrender and confiscation of all guns in the hands of civilians, and that only the police and military were authorized to have guns. Apart from the well-known abuses of the government and human rights violations of that period, those of us who lived through that period would recall that crime continued throughout; nothing changed. In fact, the only persons who were disarmed were the honest civilians, who were easy prey to criminals and gangs (often the poilice and military themselves) who continued to wield illegal guns. Historically, gun bans have been proven to be a failure in the Philippines.

Kapatiran's reference to registered firearms owners and holders of permits to carry as the part of the problem is likewise misplaced. As per the official statistics of the PNP less than 1% of the total number of gun related crimes in the Philippines are committed using registered firearms, conversely 99.9% of gun related crimes are committed by criminals using unregistered firearms. Clearly, the problem is not the licensed gun owners but criminals wielding unregistered firearms; Cabrera is well aware of such statistics, and yet he insists on distorting the facts to suit his own agenda.

"Guns do not kill, people get killed," as the Kapatiran/ Gunless Society sarcastically says. Yes, but only if you are stupid enough to disarm yourself and make yourself easy prey to criminals. That is why the more experienced and savy journalists possess and carry guns for self-protection, and rightfully so.