Should reporters carry guns?
THE SPATE OF KILLINGS perpetrated against Philippine journalists in recent years may have compelled the drafting of a Senate Bill which seeks to arm not only accredited media people, but the clergy and other professionals as well.
Senate Bill 2993, principally authored by Senator Panfilo Lacson, proposes to arm members of the Philippine Bar, Certified Public Accountants, accredited media practitioners, cashiers, bank tellers, priests, ministers, rabbi, imams, physicians and nurses, engineers and businesspersons.
In its explanatory note, the bill underscored the need to overhaul the Firearms Code as “present realities have rendered the law obsolete.” The introductory spiel also stressed the number of privately-owned firearms is increasing and so is the perception that the police is failing to secure the country’s citizenry.
“The thrust of this bill is responsible gun-ownership more than anything else. All firearms in the hands of civilians are to be used for self-defense and not for offensive purposes.
In this case, the gun-holder who will be licensed to possess firearm/s will be required to have a vault for safety. Without that vault they won’t qualify to carry,” Lacson explained.
He added gun-owners will also be required to have a band, so that in cases where the firearm is “accidentally” used, the victim will be protected.
The senator further explained that while the existing law provides for licenses to firearms, the expected amended version would license the gun owners instead. Police authorities keeps a list of all firearm holders in their computer data.
In a sample scenario where a media person “exposes” a government or police official for corrupt or illegal practice, wouldn’t he or she be made an easy target, considering that authorities have access to his or her gun-ownership files?
Lacson believes quite the contrary. He noted that if the exposed official knew that the author of the exposé were a licensed gun-owner, he would think twice about launching a violent strike.
“That is why this bill specifically includes media personalities, considering that you are in a profession where you are continually under threat. This is implied. When you’re a member of the media (or a member of the Philippine bar) there is an implied threat, even if the threat is not direct,” the Senator said.
The question is whether stakeholders will really benefit from such a proposal.
Sonny Fernandez, director of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) believes the measure is not the cure for the assault on media people.
He enumerates the following reasons why the bill should not be passed by Congress: