In the month of May this year alone there are already 40 incidents of violence in the various states of the US that involve the use of guns as well as 46 individuals killed as a consequence. Many more were reported injured as a result of these shooting incidents and, in some cases where more than 3 or 4 people are injured or killed the term “mass shooting” is used.

Mass shootings which have become prevalent in the United States have no clear cut definition or category but going online will tell you that Wikipedia has defined it as “a crime in which an attacker kills or injures multiple individuals simultaneously using a firearm.”, from the magazine ‘Mother Jones’ which defines it as “an indiscriminate rampage in a public place, resulting in three or more victims killed by the attacker, excluding gang violence, armed robbery, and attacks by unidentified perpetrators.”, and CBS broadcasting Inc. which defines it as “an event involving the shooting (not necessarily resulting in death) of five or more people (sometimes four) with no cooling-off period”. (https:// e n . w i k i p e d i a . o r g / w i k i / Mass_shooting)

Those in the US who decry gun violence attribute it to the pervasive gun mentality among Americans especially those in gunloving States who fanatically subscribe to the second amendment of their constitution prescribing the right to bear arms as a necessity for a free State. Lately in a survey conducted in the US it was discovered that 26% of Americans “now believe that access to guns is the number one public health threat”.

(https:// 2023/may/18/gun-violence-pollpublic-health-threat) Here in the Philippines where guns have also become part of the culture (apparently taking the place of bolos, spears and the bow and arrow) its presence has not equated nor earned the category of being a danger or threat to the public health, yet.  That is not to say that the country has had no experience with mass shootings (the killing of Negros Oriental Roel Degamo as well as 8 other people in Pamplona, Negros Oriental is a stark example), but these incidents come far and between when compared with those that have occurred in the US.

One more thing in most of the mass shootings in the US the firearms used were legally purchased and legitimately owned while most of guns involved in shootings, assassinations or ambuscades here in the Philippines are so called “loose firearms”. It can be said that while Filipinos may have the tendency to replace their bolos or bows and arrows with the more potent caliber.45, 9 mm or M-16 rifle such possession has to do more with protection of their properties and in defense of their lives rather than say, going around inside the mall and shooting anybody they meet. Also, the gun control laws of this country are a lot more stringent than those in the US where federal laws are more lenient.

A clear illustration for this laxity is that US Federal law does not require individuals to obtain a license or permit to purchase a firearm, although in some States they have their own permit-to-purchase law as a means to conduct a background check on the firearm purchaser. However, even in those States in America where a permit-topurchase is required before one can buy a firearm the requirements are not that strict. Take for instance the permit-to-purchase requirements in the State of Oregon. There are seven steps:” 1. The applicant is responsible for completing a certified firearm safety course and obtaining proof of completion. 2.

The applicant submits a completed Permit to Purchase application and proof of completion of an approved safety course to a Permit Agent which is defined as a local Police Department or Sheriff’s Office. 3. The Permit Agent will review documents and if applicable, they will collect the required fees, take a photograph of the applicant, and obtain fingerprints. 4. The Permit Agent will do an initial review of the application packet for possible disqualifiers, before submitting the packet to the Oregon State Police for a national and state background check. 5. The application and fingerprints are submitted to Oregon State Police for a comprehensive background check.

6. Oregon State Police will run the background check and respond to the Permit Agent with a qualified or disqualified after all research is complete. 7. The Permit Agent makes the final decision to issue a Permit to Purchase.” There is a big difference here in the Philippines when it comes to a permit or license to own or possess a firearm. Under Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive
Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act for an individual to be able to purchase and own a gun the following requirements have to be met: “Filipino citizen, at least twenty-one (21) years old and has gainful work, occupation or business or has filed an Income Tax Return (ITR) for the preceding
year as proof of income, profession, business or occupation.”

Additionally, the following must be complied with. “submit the following certification issued by appropriate authorities attesting the following: (a) The applicant has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude: (b) The applicant has passed the psychiatric test administered by a PNP-accredited psychologist or psychiatrist; (c) The applicant has passed the drug test conducted by an accredited and authorized drug testing laboratory or clinic; (d) The applicant has passed a gun safety seminar which is administered by the PNP or a registered and authorized gun club;

(e) The applicant has filed in writing the application to possess a registered firearm which shall state the personal circumstances of the applicant; (f) The applicant must present a police clearance
from the city or municipality police office; and (g) The applicant has not been convicted or is
currently an accused in a pending criminal case before any court of law for a crime that is punishable with a penalty of more than two (2) years.” But if the US really wants to abate or reduce the high incidence of mass shootings it only has to change its perception, and perhaps its law, and make gun ownership simply a privilege and not a right.

Amianan Balita Ngayon