Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another Proposed Law to Ban Carrying Airsoft Guns in the Philippines

Philippine Airsoft Players really are having a bad year. They are prevented carrying airsoft guns to their game sites during the last national elections, now the ongoing campaign for the village and youth council elections, and soon they will have to face the prospect of not being able to play airsoft at all with a law being proposed by people's organisations in that country.
Mainly-led by Catholic Church-influenced organisations, this group is using the country's unique "indirect initiative" where they can directly draft a bill and have it tabled for debate by the Philippine Congress and have it approved to be signed into law. The justification for this proposed law is the proliferation of illegal firearms in the country used by private armies owned by politicians and criminals. The gun ban during elections this year have drastically reduced the number of crimes in the country and the groups advocating for stricter gun regulations have gone to high gear elated by the results of the election gun ban.
While it is understood that such regulation would control the proliferation of dangerous weapons used in crimes, the sweeping proposal also covers airsoft and other replica firearms as stated in Section 3 of the proposed law, called Citizen's Protection Act of 2010. According to the Bill... "Only the following persons who are in the regular plantilla of the PNP or AFP or other law enforcement agencies are authorized to bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons in public places." Licenced firearms of private citizens should be left at home.
In interviews with the news media, the proponents say that sports shooters can carry their firearms to shooting ranges. The President of the Philippines, Nonoy Aquino Jr., is a gun enthusiast himself and thus can carry firearms only for the purpose of bringing it to a shooting range. But going over the Bill, there is no provision whatsoever regarding such assurance for those who use firearms and replica weapons for sporting purposes. However, a law that gets approved in the Philippines needs Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), which then may define how firearms are to be transported through the issuance of "permits to carry".
Philippine airsoft players already enjoy such privilege through the Philippine National Police Circular No. 11 ("Revised Rules and regulations governing the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, possession, carrying of airsoft rifles/pistols and operation of airsoft game sites and airsoft teams"). However, since its an IRR, it may be overturned as the PNP will need to issue another circular as based on the Citizens Protection Act 2010, if it does get approved to be a law.
There's an ongoing friction between the Roman Catholic Church and the Philippine President over birth control, and this proposed law might just worsen that friction as the President himself is a gun enthusiast. The proposed law is actually a rehash of the proposed gun ban law in the early 1990s, during the time of the President's mother, Corazon Aquino, which never prospered.
However, airsoft players and responsible gun enthusiasts should not be complacent. The first thing that they need to do is to dialogue with the proponents to clarify what they mean by sports shooters being able to carry their firearms from home to the shooting/gaming areas. Transporting weapons, even if concealed, from one point to another, for legitimate purposes, would still cover "public areas", especially for players who use public transportation to get to game areas. Those who travel by car would be safe as cars are considered private property.
But then, the proposed law is not explicit on their explanation of allowing licenced owners to carry their registered weapons to shooting/gaming areas. If the text is loud and clear, then there might not be something for enthusiasts to be alarmed about and they may just support the proposed law in the name crime prevention.
You can read the proposed law by downloading the "THE CITIZEN PROTECTION ACT OF 2010."

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