World needs stricter gun control

More and more lives are being lost to gun violence than ever before. The latest incident in America left 19 school children dead in the wake of an incomprehensible rampage by an 18-year-old, who even shot his old grandmother before committing the dastardly act condemned by all.

Such a culture is not healthy to peace-loving citizens worldwide. Owning a gun is tantamount to stating that you are willing to injure and kill people. It’s a type of systemic paranoia that is downright sick and should not be allowed to persist.

How can those incidents happen in a nominally Christian country? Will the death of those innocent victims change anything? Is it time to stop the politics of gun control? These questions are all begging for answers.

In the wake of this latest tragedy, perhaps it’s appropriate that the politics of gun control stop. It’s probably time to move forward with legislation and refuse to allow political interests that keep standing in the way of protecting our citizens – including our children.

This political tug of war over gun control is the reason why the United States have not had strong federal measures enacted since President Bill Clinton and the Democratic Congress passed the assault weapons ban in 1994. Since that legislation was signed into law, gun control policy has seen little progress.

Here at home, most laws regarding civilian ownership of firearms concern legislation and background checks. There is also focus on disarming militant groups such as the Islamic separatists in Mindanao and the communist rebel groups such as the New People’s Army. The Philippines has also enacted laws as a result of many incidents of armed political violence during elections.

During his presidency, Ferdinand Marcos implemented gun confiscations against citizens. These were part of his martial law regime, what he referred to as The New Society, or “Bagong Lipunan.”

The ownership of firearms in the Philippines presently is regulated by the Firearms and Explosives Division of the Philippine National Police. In order to possess a firearm, a person must be at a minimum age of 21 years and pass a background check to be issued a Possession License.

They must also take a firearms training and safety course. Any history of mental illnesses or domestic violence within the individual or the family will cause an applicant to have their request rejected.

The Philippines is one of the least gun restrictive countries in Asia. This is in part a cultural legacy from the days when the Philippines was part of the American Commonwealth.

Guns are used for hunting, target shooting, self-protection and security purposes. Filipinos can carry pistols and handguns in public by acquiring a Permit to Carry.

According to a 2014 study, there are 1,700,000 licensed firearms owners and 3,900,000 privately owned guns (legally and illegally) in the country.

Figures show America has the highest gun-related death rate in the world. It is because they have easy access to buy guns and anybody can have one. On the contrary, Japan has the lowest gun-related death because they have many restrictions and regulations that regulate gun ownership. It is therefore one of the safest countries globally.

Before the term of President Duterte, the Philippines used to have a high crime rate based on statistics. A lot of citizens have advocated for a national gun ban because violent crimes have gotten increasingly out of control.

In fact, gun control has become an issue all over the world. It is said that gun violence is a contemporary global human rights issue as it threatens our most fundamental human right, which is the right to life. Sometimes, the mere presence of firearms can make people feel threatened and fearful for their lives with severe and long-term psychological effects on individuals and whole communities.

Perhaps it’s about time that international groups including Amnesty International and the United Nations advocate stricter gun controls to make firearms less accessible by controlling their distribution and sale.

Global citizens should stand up and remind their leaders of their obligation to keep us safe. By getting everybody involved, we can all live safely and without fear – which is our right in the first place.

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