A string of recent shootings, including the killing of a policeman along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) on March 26, should prompt changes in the public mindset as well as legislation regarding the possession and carrying of firearms outside residence, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.
Lacson said the killing of Police Senior Master Sergeant Solomon Cugay shows gunmen can act with impunity because of loose firearm laws as well as the public mindset that people with firearms in civilian attire are lawmen.
“Presently, when we see persons in civilian attire with firearms bulging from their pants, we just assume they are police or military personnel. It should be the other way around. If we see someone in civilian attire and with a firearm, we should instinctively assume the person is up to no good, and report him or her to the nearest police station,” Lacson, who headed the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001, said in an interview on DZMM radio on Wednesday.
“Every day, we hear of someone being gunned down by motorcycle-riding assailants. A policeman is the latest victim in a growing list that includes politicians, traders and even lawyers,” he added.
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He recalled that when he headed the PNP, he limited the issuance of Permits to Carry Firearms Outside Residence (PTCFORs), with the end view of making sure only uniformed police and military personnel who are on duty can carry firearms outside their homes.
Lacson noted that in other territories like Hong Kong, people automatically report to police those they see in civilian attire and with firearms.
“Firearms are for self-defense against intruders and should be kept at home. Once one brings it outside your house, chances are the owner’s mindset can change and he or she can use it for offense,” Lacson stressed.
On the other hand, Lacson said the killing should also be a challenge to the PNP to show they are capable of protecting the public from criminals.
“Some gun owners’ groups have argued they have no choice but to bring their guns outside their houses because the police cannot protect them. This should be a challenge to the PNP, to show they can protect the public,” he said.
He also said it is high time the PNP tighten the issuance of PTCFORs, following reports that even criminals who just change their names can get such permits.
Meanwhile, Lacson stressed the need to legislate tighter laws against firearms in the 18th Congress.
He noted other countries such as New Zealand are considering tighter legislation on gun ownership following a mass shooting there last March 15.
“We cannot allow a situation that allows mass shootings like in other countries. Neither can we afford the present situation where the country becomes the Wild, Wild West,” he said.