0151E: The Megamall Incident and Gun Rights

Last Saturday, several jewelry stores at SM Megamall were robbed and the criminals were able to slip away amid the crowd. It was a somewhat daring robbery given it happened during mall hours and the place was pretty packed. But at the same time this was probably a large factor with regard to why they were able to succeed in their heist.

While we're going through the usual discussions related to the inefficiency of mall security and calls for better enforcement of the gun ban, it always disappoints me when we encounter the tangential discussions about how the right to bear arms should be put on the table as an issue. The pre-election gun ban is in effect and there are those saying that this is what is making criminals bolder.

At this point I can't help but disagree severely. The gun ban is in place precisely because of the fact that the folks who own the most guns tend to include those in political power and thus strong arm tactics are often utilized to coerce voters to see things their way. And yes, they could also use these same weapons to "acquire funds" for their campaigns, and so forth. Enforcement is the issue, not armament.

Can you imagine what things would have been like if there had been armed civilians in the shopping crowd at the time of the heist? Of course the first question would remain whether or not these armed civilians would actually go out of their way to risk their lives to stop the criminals. Then we face the very real threat of an untrained individual wielding a firearm in a crowded mall with people panicking because of the initial shot fired by the robbers. While the loss of property is lamentable indeed, at the very least there was no loss of life during the whole event.

I respect the rights of gun-owners when it comes to protecting their homes from intruders. It's still not going to be an ideal case should such an incident occur, but your home is your home and self-defense is a fundamental right in that regard. But I'll admit that I will never fully agree with the right to carry a weapon around unless you get a ridiculous amount of regular training that comes with that license. Plus I'd expect you to pass some level of gun proficiency examinations before you get that far.

Gun ownership may be a right for some, but regardless it is always a responsibility. Gun control, for me, isn't as simple as banning personal gun ownership or not. What I think needs to go into proper gun control are proper licensing requirements, comprehensive background checks and minimum proficiency levels before you can own a gun, what more bring it around. A permit to carry should have the same level of testing requirements as we expect from law enforcement. A gun in the hands of someone who is not properly trained in its efficient use is even more dangerous to himself than any criminal.

And I feel this is especially true in a country like the Philippines. But of course I'm speaking in somewhat ideal terms. We're worlds away from this sort of thinking. Thus at the same time we're sure that in a month or so, all the malls will start to relax their security measures and go back to status quo. For now we're rather stuck in this cycle.

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