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New law gets strict on gun ownership

MANILA, Philippines - A new law that imposes stricter requirements on gun ownership was signed by President Aquino on Wednesday.

The President also signed a law allowing prisoners new deductions from jail time for good behavior.

The new gun law, Republic Act 10591, also known as the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, recognizes the right of qualified citizens to self-defense through the use of firearms, under certain circumstances.

Among the salient features of the new law are the standards and prerequisites for the issuance of a license to own and possess a firearm, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday.

The standard requirements for an applicant for a gun license should be a Filipino citizen; at least 21 years old; and has gained full work occupation or business or has filed an income tax return for the preceding year as proof of income, profession, business or occupation.

In addition, the applicant must submit certifications issued by appropriate authorities attesting, among others, that he or she has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude; passed the psychiatric test administered by a Philippine National Police-accredited psychologist or psychiatrist; passed the drug test conducted by an accredited and authorized drug testing laboratory or clinic; and passed a gun safety seminar administered by the PNP or a registered and authorized gun club.

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The other requirement is that the applicant should not have been convicted, or is currently an accused, in a pending criminal case for a crime punishable with a penalty of more than two years.

The applicant must also file in writing the application to possess a registered firearm stating personal circumstances. The applicant should also present a clearance from the city or municipal police office.

The applicant must also pay the reasonable gun licensing fees.

Who are permitted to carry guns

The new law also has a provision for carrying firearms outside of residence or place of business and gun owners must have a permit to carry (PTC) firearms.

A qualified person may apply for a PTC if he or she is under actual threat or is in imminent danger due to the nature of his or her profession, occupation or business.

The law specifies professionals who are considered to be in imminent danger due to the nature of their profession, occupation or business.

They include lawyers or members of the Philippine Bar, certified public accountants, accredited media practitioners, cashiers, bank tellers, priests, ministers, rabbis and imams, physicians, nurses, and engineers.

Businessmen who, by nature of their business or undertaking, are exposed to the high risk of being targets of criminal elements are also allowed to apply for PTC.

Section 10 of Republic Act 10591 also specifies the firearms that may be registered, Valte said. Only small firearms may be registered by licensed citizens or licensed juridical entities for ownership, possession and concealed carrying.

A light weapon shall be lawfully acquired or possessed exclusively by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the PNP and other law enforcement agencies authorized by the president in the performance of their duties. All firearms must be registered with the PNP.

Firearms for use in sports and competitions also require licensing.

Firearm and ammunition manufacturers must also apply for licenses, Valte said.

Both locally manufactured and imported firearms must also be registered as mandated by the new law.

Gun stores are also required to have a license based on the new law for the purchase and sale of guns, as well as general business in handling firearms and ammunitions.

Gunsmiths must also apply for a license for them to repair registered firearms.

The new law also requires gun owners to renew their licenses every two years on or before the date of expiration. If they fail to renew their licenses, the PNP will revoke them and this means confiscation of the firearm.

The registration of the firearm shall be renewed every four years. Failure to renew the registration of the firearm on or before the date of expiration shall cause the revocation of the license of the firearm. The firearm shall be confiscated or forfeited in favor of the government.

Failure to renew a license or registration within the periods mandated by the new law on two occasions shall cause the holder of the firearm to be perpetually disqualified from applying for any firearm license.

The application for the renewal of the license or registration may be submitted to the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) of the PNP within six months before the date of the expiration of such license or registration.

The new law will take effect 15 days from its publication in a newspaper of nationwide circulation.

Penalties

The PNP chief, through the FEO, shall issue licenses to qualified individuals and to cause the registration of firearms.

The Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will issue permits in the case of an application for a license to manufacture; and the PNP chief in the case of a license to deal in firearms and firearms parts, ammunition and gun repair.

The PNP chief or his authorized representative shall require the submission of reports, and inspect or examine the inventory and records of a licensed manufacturer, dealer or importer of firearms and ammunition during reasonable hours.

The unlawful acquisition, possession of firearms and ammunition shall be penalized with prision mayor (six years and one day to 12 years in prison) to reclusion perpetua (maximum of 40 years’ imprisonment) depending on the circumstances of the offense.

The use of a loose firearm, when inherent in the commission of a crime punishable under the Revised Penal Code or other special laws, would be considered as an aggravating circumstance under certain conditions.

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