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Loose with loose firearms

By NEWSBREAK

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Simple arithmetic shows that there are several unlicensed guns in every neighborhood

On July 7, President Arroyo issued Executive Order 817, offering
amnesty to loose firearms, if they will be registered anytime in
October.

The EO is actually an oxymoron—it orders a relentless
and intensified campaign to seize ALL loose firearms, but it’s telling
the owners they need not be punished for keeping unlicensed guns as
long as they register them voluntarily.

If memory serves right,
this is the fourth time the Arroyo administration has offered amnesty
to loose firearms. Licensed gun dealers have been complaining that it’s
tantamount to encouraging gun smugglers to continue doing their thing.

But
dig this: the President’s reason for wanting all loose firearms
confiscated is a bit short-sighted—so that they won’t be used in sowing
violence in the 2010 elections.

Her administration is missing the
bigger picture. The EO itself rattles off very alarming numbers,
indicating very real threats to peace and order in neighborhoods, every
day, not just in some political hotspots in an election season.

As
of May 2009, there were 1.11 million loose firearms nationwide. Of
these, 559,326 have expired licenses; 529,550 are with the general
population; 15,676 are with threat groups; and 5,726 are with criminal
elements. (The last two numbers beg the question: If the authorities
know how many exactly are with lawbreakers, then they probably know who
and where these lawbreakers are. Why are they not arresting them?)

We
did the math. The latest census puts the Philippines’ population at
88.57 million. That means that for every 80 Filipinos, 1 is keeping an
unlicensed firearm. That means that in each of the 42,000 barangays
nationwide, there are 26 unrecorded firearms lying around. That’s like
a gun in every compound or clan. And we’re only talking of unregistered
guns here.

If we add the number of licensed firearms—some
633,000, according to a paper by the Philippine Center for
Transnational Crimes—then there are 1.74 million guns in circulation in
this country. That’s 1 gun for every 51 persons; 42 guns in every
barangay; probably at least 2 guns per compound or clan.

And all she can do about it is to offer amnesty.

The Inside Track is Newsbreak’s intelligencer section. It features the latest buzz on juicy political and business goings on.  

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