By Dean Weingarten
Police went house to house confiscating firearms. Firearms that were confiscated were never returned. While the current gun ban is not so draconian, it amounts to a ban on carrying guns outside of the home for most of the year during election years, which occur every three years.
In 2013, the ban started on January 13, and lasted until June 12. It then started up again on September 28 and ended on November 12. That is 225 days out of a 365 day year. During this period, everyone is subject to searches at numerous checkpoints. In 2010, there were 3,500 checkpoints. In a way, this is a form of New York “Stop and Frisk” for the entire nation of the Philippines.
In 2007, the gun ban only included politicians and their security details. This seems rather strange, when politicians are statistically the ones being targeted by assassins. There was no election gun ban in 2004.
The bans include the carrying of knives and explosives as well as guns, and are supposed to be applied to off duty policemen, soldiers, and government officials. However, different penalties are applied to some groups. They face administrative disciplinary action, up to dismissal from the service. Ordinary citizens face jail time and fines.
Among the arrested gun ban violators were nine cops, eight soldiers and eight government officials, including a town mayor of Abra.
“They will be charged with appropriate criminal cases,” said Mayor.
But for government employees like policemen and soldiers, separate administrative charges will be filed with a maximum penalty of dismissal from the service.
The government claims that the bans are effective in reducing crime. From The Vera Files, a publication of Philippine journalists:
But since our police data are rarely available and reliable, we just have to trust the statement of no less than President Aquino that the total crime volume went down in 2012. If, indeed, the trend observed by the Philippine National Police is true, gun-related crimes shall likely drop sometime soon. In 2010, when gun ban was strictly imposed, the crime rate incidence fell by nearly 70 percent during the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2009.
To see a 70 percent drop in crime would be quite an achievement, but one that is not particularly believable. The article notes that the police say that owners of registered guns only account for a bit more than two percent of crimes committed with guns in the Philippines.
After all, police data revealed that 1.2 million of loose firearms accounted for 97.7 percent of gun-related offenses in 2009. Read again, almost all gun-related cases are perpetrated by loose firearms. Now, does the success of the election gun ban, at least according to PNP data, merit the enforcement of a year-round total gun ban?
Of course, the same caveat about the reliability of the data applies to these numbers, but it indicates that the police think that legally owned guns are not a large part of crime in the Philippines.
It is estimated that there are roughly equivalent numbers of legal and illegal guns in the Philippines, about 1 million registered rifles and pistols, and 1.2 million unregistered guns. Underground and semi-underground manufacture of guns is thriving in the Philippines, so the number is likely growing rapidly. Citizens who have jumped through all the legal hoops to own and carry guns are not happy about being forbidden to do so when they may need them the most:
The election gun ban practically prevents licensed and responsible gun owners from carrying their defensive weapons during the critical months of the election period. Is it the best way to say thanks to them when most of the time they’re not the ones involved in gun-related offenses? Most likely, the politicians have been given exemptions already. It is doubtful if an election gun ban type could have prevented the New Year’s Eve firing of guns or the rampage in Cavite. Revellers can still fire their weapons from their private areas and drug-crazed people will forget or disregard a gun ban. Perhaps the actual implication of a successful Election Gun Ban is not necessarily the call for a total gun ban, but the call for active policing against gun-related offenses.
A ban that persists for most of the year is not a “temporary” ban. It has become the norm. If the government claims that the ban is so effective in reducing crime, then the logical response would be to make the ban permanent.
It would be just as logical to eliminate the separate gun ban, and simply have heightened security enforcement during the elections. If there is a serious reduction in crime during the period, it is more likely from the checkpoints than from the ban on carrying legal weapons. Many would say that it is the age old question: Who do you trust more, the people or the government? A healthy society grows trust for both the government and the people. Allowing people who have gone to the trouble of legally obtaining weapons to maintain their use during troubled times increases trust for both groups.
The Philippines passed a comprehensive new firearms law this year that seems to include at least some positive reforms. It leaves the election year gun ban in place.
©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch
About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.