Monday, January 04, 2010

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By Joselito Basilio

Starting 9 February 2010 a total gun ban will be in effect nationwide until 9 June 2010 according to Comelec Resolution 8714 dated 14 December 2009.

Many airsoft enthusiasts ask this question : “Are airsoft guns included in the Comelec gun ban?”.

Section 2 of the said Resolution defines “firearm” as follows:

Firearm shall refer to the “firearm” as defined in existing laws, rules and regulations. The term also includes airgun, airsoft guns, and their replica/imitation in whatever form that can cause an ordinary person to believe that they are real.

Is the Comelec correct in including airsoft guns in the definition of firearm?

Consider the definition of ‘firearm’ in existing laws, rules and regulations.

Section 877 of the Revised Administrative defines “firearm” as follows:

Firearms or arms as herein used, include rifles, muskets, carbines, shotguns, revolvers, pistols, and all other deadly weapons from which a bullet, ball, shot shell, or other missile may be discharged by means of gunpowder or other explosives. The term also includes air rifles except such as being of small caliber and limited range and use as toys. The barrel of any firearm shall be considered a complete firearm.

PNP Circular No. 8 (13 September 2006) defines airsoft rifle/pistol as follows:

Airsoft rifle/pistol herein used includes battery operated, spring and gas type powered rifles/ pistol which discharge plastic or rubber pellets only as bullets or ammunition.

Airsoft rifle/pistol as a toy shall refer to those manufacture purposely as replica of a real armament with all its specifications and corresponding intellectual property sign or logo.

It is clear from the foregoing definitions that an airsoft gun is classified as a ‘toy airgun’ by PNP regulations and falls under the exception of an existing statute defining what a firearm is.

Since an airsoft gun is not a firearm (but rather a toy airgun), I submit that the Comelec has erred in expanding the definition of firearm which now includes airsoft guns?

Basic is the rule in administrative law that administrative agencies (such as the Comelec) may exercise only such powers as are expressly granted or delegated to them by law. The authority of the Comelec to regulate the carrying and transporting of “firearms” during election period is an express delegation of power derived from law (i.e., Sec. 32 and 33 of R.A. 7166).

The Comelec is supposed to issue rules and regulations that are consistent with existing laws and must act within the confines of its delegated authority under R.A. 7166.

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