By Miguel C. Gil
The true significance of holding the 1st Firearms Enthusiasts Day last April 20 went far beyond its entertainment value.
Many view the event, which was held at the MetroTent, Ortigas Center, as the first honest-to-goodness attempt to galvanize legal gun owners into unified force able to actively pursue their collective interests.
For too long a time, government regulators have treated legally-armed citizens with such apparent suspicion and distrust that it has reflected in the almost oppressive and often fickle regulations on gun ownership.
Finally, some respect
But in the message of the Director General of the Philippine National Police at the Firearms Enthusiasts Day (delivered by a representative), there were indications that honest gun owners are beginning to get the respect they deserve.
In that message, despite the over-emphasis on gun ownership being a mere “privilege,” it was also admitted that it was a “privilege attached to a right.” The right being referred to is obviously the right to self-preservation… in other words, the right to life!
The admission that this privilege is actually attached to a fundamental right that is held sacred by all civilized societies—is in itself a small victory for gun owners in general. It may also indicate that the efforts of gun rights advocacies like the A2S5 Coalition, is finally bearing fruit!
Too many cops
The very conspicuous presence of so many policemen at the Metro Tent during the Firearms Enthusiasts Day somewhat dampened the event for some participants. Was it really necessary to post practically a detachment of uniformed cops to a social event to which no guns whatsoever were brought, they asked? Or could it be that Big Brother was just flexing his muscles?
It is crystal clear that the PNP and gun rights advocates are at opposite ends of the gun control debate! The PNP as an organization has done gun owners no favors in recent memory! It continues to call for ever tighter gun control regulations… which aside from eroding the already frail “privilege” of gun ownership also inevitably translate to more red tape and expense.
Fear that one’s “privilege” may be unceremoniously revoked has kept gun owners largely quiet and constantly trying to appease the regulator. But this thinking has only served to keep law-abiding gun owners subject to the caprices of an unsympathetic government agency!
Next time around
It is hoped that the 1st Firearms Enthusiasts Day will not be the last. While leaving much to be desired, it may have been the first tentative step towards the establishment of real gun rights for Filipinos.
At the 2nd Firearms Enthusiasts Day, should it ever happen, it would be nice to see more legislators and aspiring solons in the list of participants. The support of Senators and Congressmen is necessary in the worthwhile pursuit to turn a “privilege” into a “right.”
Legislative action is also necessary in order to put clarity in the many grey areas of current gun ownership regulations. Gun owners are sure to abide willingly to regulations that are clear, predictable and fair. Also, graft and corruption cannot thrive once the atmosphere of administrative ambiguity is removed.
Ultimately, the purpose of organizing legitimate gun owners into a political unit is so that they can influence the crafting of laws which they will eventually be made to follow. It is essential to elect congressional candidates that are sympathetic if not outright supportive of gun owners’ rights.
The Firearms Enthusiasts Day could have been an ideal venue to show like-minded legislators as well as candidates that gun owners constitute a large and potentially vote-rich sector. It is a safe bet that politicians will be kinder and more generous to the “gun crowd” once they discover that this is a group that can put them in office!