Guns in The Philippines are everywhere
I am not sure if the average tourist picks up on the fact that guns are everywhere in The Philippines. From the police, to the private security man on down to the general public. In the Philippines you have the right to bear arms.
Sadly on Monday August 23rd a bus filled with tourists in the capital Manila, got to experience this first hand. And, the results ended in a shooting bloodbath.
Manila kidnapping & shooting
The media has covered this story in its entirety (news sourcewiki source) so I won’t repeat it in detail. The outline of what happened as of today is that an ex policeman, dismissed over allegations of corruption boarded a tourist bus in Manila. He took over and posted signs on the front of the bus asking for a review of his case.
He released hostages throughout the day as his demands were met. Then, his brother, also an active policeman showed up. Somehow the brother managed to make his way to the bus. Police on duty arrested him. This seemed to have set the hostage taker off, and he opened fire, shooting at police and the tourists.
What transpired over the next hour was shocking & horrifying on many levels. The elite police force took a sledge-hammer to the bus and tried to gain entry. Gunshots sounded from inside. The police hammered on the windows and at the door. Nothing gave in. The gun man continued shooting.
People all around me said the same thing. What on earth are they doing? Even if they did break the windows, they would need a six-foot ladder to get in. They did not have one.
One hour later, and much more shooting later. The kidnapper’s body fell from the door; a bullet in his head. A sniper I would presume.
8 tourists were killed.
Filipinos obsession with weapons
Many nations feel it is there right to bear arms. The U.S.A. is one of them. And, every month we hear of the consequences as someone goes berserk, or methodically goes on a killing spree.
In the Philippines it’s relatively expensive to legally own a gun. A handgun may set you back 35,000 pesos. A license another 14,000 per year. And, a license to transport firearms another 10,000.
How this is all enforced, is another matter.
Deadly weapons in the hands of unskilled professionals
I recently visited a shooting range here. A very popular place it would seem. Men, women, and teenagers were all involved in training courses for shooting handguns. Target practice, and defence being the objectives.
Sitting there and watching gung-ho men open up gun cases, then clicking away was off-putting. Then, to see an overweight middle-aged woman pull a .45 out of her handbag was very off-putting. Worse still was her inability to control the weapon.
Perhaps the saddest sight was a young teenage boy being brought there by his parents with a shiny new, and deadly toy.
The army officer who never had arms training
Perhaps the worst thing of the day I heard was from an army officer who joined basic firearms training.
“This is the first time anyone ever showed me how to shoot properly”
That to me, is scary. An army officer who was never shown how to shoot a weapon properly.
Where the professionals come to learn
Louder gun shots, and blasts sounded further down the field. Both uniformed and non uniformed professionals were practicing with shotguns and assault rifles.
Yes, this was indeed a place you could bring anything, and fire away. Possibly, for the first time.
Big smiles, bigger guns
In the Philippines the bigger your gun, the bigger your smile. This is lone ranger territory, and a tinder box waiting to go off.
As wealth increases within the nation, so too does the ability to buy these weapons.
Here is a place where giant plastic toy guns are seen pridefully in the hands of children. Some 15 years later the plastic changes to metal but the smiles remain the same.
Unskilled, and deadly ideas
I have no problem with someone wanting to own a gun. I do have a problem with the way it is administrated. Money talks here, and anyone can buy a license. And, for that matter a gun.
Just walk into a regular shopping mall and you will find at least one store openly displaying weapons like it were a toy shop or candy store.
Look at the security guard with his old rusty revolver. The person probably has never even fired it. Let alone had training in its usage. But still, he has one.
Untold deaths on the rise
I started this article writing about the events earlier in the week. A former police officer with an assault rifle killing tourists. What went under the news radar that day is earlier a Korean pastor had been shot and killed by an armed gang also in The Philippines.
Death by gunshot is increasing in The Philippines on a weekly level.
In a country known for the violent deaths of more journalists than anywhere else on earth, it is continuing to spiral down a dark tunnel.
Events this week seem to indicate, it’s only going to get worse.
Learn from others, don’t replicate the same thing
We as people learn from our mistakes. Or, at least we should. Why then can nations not do the same?
Why can a nation not look at the problems occurring in another country and try to prevent it from happening in their own?
The right to bear arms has its merits, but look at the mistakes other countries have made in implementing this. Look at this and make a difference. Is this such an impossibility?
I just came across this BBC news video about The Philippines firearms industry certainly worth a watch.
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