Lawyer opposes permanent gun ban bill By Cecille Suerte Felipe Friday, May 23, 2008 Philippine Star A Quezon City prosecutor expressed his opposition to a plan to ban private gun ownership, saying the proposal would only take away from law-abiding citizens the means to protect themselves and embolden criminals. In a letter to The STAR, Quezon City State Prosecutor Ferdinand Baylon said the recent bank robbery in Cabuyao, Laguna, in which 10 people were shot dead, would not have been prevented by a stricter gun ownership law. Even if we had absolute prohibition on gun ownership, the perpetrators of the Cabuyao massacre would still have had their hands on high-caliber firearms, he added. Baylon said a proposed house bill to eliminate private gun ownership as a means of decreasing crime rate is not only poorly researched but is downright irresponsible and illogical. When you take away from law-abiding citizens the means to protect themselves, you only embolden criminal elements. A criminal thinks twice before confronting an armed victim, he pointed out. Baylon said when the government is not in a position to protect its citizens 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the last thing it should do is take away those citizens means of defending themselves from criminal elements. Rather than deprive citizens of the instruments and weapons which could save their lives, the government should give them access to these instruments and provide empowerment to the people by providing proper training for the acquisition of skills, the right frame of mind, discipline and attitude which would ensure their survival in these very interesting times, he added. Baylon cited the May 16 Cabuyao bank robbery and the May 19 shooting rampage in Calamba City, in which eight people were killed. Just think, if we had more liberal gun ownership laws, or if only some of the bank employees were armed, they could have at least made a last stand rather than being there, defenseless, at the hands of merciless men, he pointed out. Baylon said the answer to curbing crimes is for the government, which has no capacity to protect its citizens 24/7, to allow responsible, law-abiding citizens easy access to the instruments and weapons which could protect their lives, properties and homes. He said it is naive to think that declaring private gun ownership as illegal will automatically deter criminals from possessing firearms. Criminal will still own guns and will still have access to firearms notwithstanding the passage of any law curbing gun ownership, Baylon said. He added that the Cabuyao massacre could have been prevented if one or two bank employees were armed and properly trained in handling bank robbery situations. In fact, the management and owners of the bank had the responsibility to have armed and trained their employees since bank employees face the risk and danger of armed robberies everyday, he said. Baylon said they should have made sure that their employees were capable of dealing with worst-case scenarios. He added that the presupposition that stricter gun laws have deterrent effects on criminals is not supported by any hard facts or statistical basis. The fact of the matter is, England, since the 1920s has had strict gun laws but its crime rate is not any better than the (United States), which is more liberal in terms of gun ownership, he said. Baylon said crimes and the degree of violence are not determined by the availability of weaponry or by the strictness of gun control laws but are fundamentally determined by socio-political and economic factors.