Firearms licensing still a mess

A leading firearms dealer stated last week that “Gun owners who have failed to get an LTOP (license to own and possess firearms) are simply lazy.” 

Really? Well, maybe that scion of a famous gun selling family should examine the reality first to cure his ignorance. Out of 1.7 Million licensed firearms in the Philippines less than 20,000 have applied for and even less have obtained their LTOP. The truth being that Firearms owners have not been able to comply with the new LTOP requirement because of the difficulty in obatining the requirements (for which substantial clearances and payments in addition to the actual license fee have to be paid by the applicant), the ineptness, incomptence, and corruption of PNP Regional Offices in processing and forwarding firearms license applications, and the continued centralization of the firearms license applications in Camp Crame Quezon City (in defiance of a Temporary Restraining order issued by the Supreme Court last year), which makes it impossible for firearms owners from the different regions to apply for an LTOP.

There is also the issue of Consitutionality of the LTOP. PROGUN has filed and has pending a petition in the SUpreme Court questioning the LTOP for being ex post facto since it applies RETROACTIVELY, and imposes a criminal offense to existing licensed gun owners who fail to comply. This issue is still being litigated in the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the small to medium sized gun dealers have closed down due to lack of sales. In fact sales have been driven down to about 10% of the level it was before RA 10591 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations were passed.

As such, due to the foregoing, the vast majority of licensed gun owners have failed to comply with the LTOP requirement. It’s not that the firearms owners do not want to comply, but because of the costs and difficulty of doing so, they cannot comply with the LTOP requirement. Consequently, the intent of the law RA 10591 which was to lessen the number of illegal or loose firearms has ironically achieved the exact opposite: the wrongful implementation of the law by the PNP has created 1,698,000 loose and /or expired firearms in the Philippines. Obviously, with the incomptence in the manner in which the law has been implemented, the government has now created a problem which they cannot solve.

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