Belmonte: Gun control to be taken up in 16th Congress

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MANILA, Philippines – After a recent survey showed that 3 out of 4 Filipinos support a gun control policy, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said on Friday that the issue would be taken up in the next Congress.

Reiterating his call for a strict gun control, Belmonte said the matter “would most likely” be among the many concerns to be raised when the 16th Congress opens in July.

Earlier this year, Belmonte said the country certainly needs greater firearms control. A total ban except for those in the military, police and security agencies, was only ideal as long as illegal firearms thrive, he added.

Meanwhile, one of the authors of a gun control measure filed in the lower house stressed the need for “comprehensive, sustainable and stricter” regulations on all types of firearms and its components.

Marikina City 1st District Representative Marcelino Teodoro said the proliferation of firearms is becoming rampant, making it easier for criminal entities to perform acts of violence.

“A gun control law must be upheld and fully enforced upon by the concerned agencies and supported by the government to eradicate criminal acts,” said Teodoro, one of the authors of House Bill 5484 or the Comprehensive Firearms, Light Weapons and Ammunition Regulation Act of 2012.

The House of Representatives approved the said bill on third and final reading on Jan. 24, 2012, and sent it to the Senate two days later.

Last February 4 or more than a year later, the Senate approved on third and final reading a similar gun measure, the Senate Bill 3397 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

The said bill had been adopted by the Lower House as an amendment to HB 5484.

Among other violations, the Senate measure penalizes the illegal acquisition or ownership of three or more light firearms, which is punishable by lifetime imprisonment.

The gun measure was filed in the Senate last January, a month when gun-related incidents such the Atimonan, Quezon shooting and the New Year stray bullet cases were highlighted.

Earlier this week, a Pulse Asia survey showed that 75 percent of Filipinos are in favor of the implementation of a gun control policy.

See related story: 3 out of 4 Pinoys favor gun control

In the survey that covered 1,800 people aged 18 and above, only seven percent disagreed to such regulation, while 18 percent were undecided on the issue.

The survey also showed that most Filipinos (78 percent) prefer a policy that only allows law enforcers and licensed private security guards to carry firearms in public places.

A sizeable majority of the respondents (67 percent) also think that guns and their proliferation are among the key reasons why crime and violence occur in the country.