AThe Gun Law IRR is out

- Rey Gamboa - The Philippine Star

Sometime last year, when Republic Act 10591 or the New Gun law was approved, we ran a short series on it based on our interview with Major Ricardo Zapata in the interest of promoting responsible gun ownership. As the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) had not yet been published then, Major Zapata, chief of the Inspection & Enforcement Section of the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) of the PNP spoke on general terms, outlining the salient points of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act. With the IRR now out to serve as a guideline for all civilians and law enforcement personnel alike, we thought it prudent to set another interview, this time with Gen. Louie T. Oppus, chief of the FEO himself who, like Major Ric, was very accommodating and patient in explaining the nuances of the new Gun Law which was designed and crafted to give a face to the all firearms registered in this country.

With the new law, a gun owner is required to get a new license to own and possess a firearm before his old license expires, and he is required to re-register all his firearms. All gun stores have been advised by the PNP to heed this.

Together with the written application to own and possess a firearm, the applicant should submit the following:

1. Clearances issued by the Regional Trial Court or Municipal/Metropolitan Trial Court or Sandigan Bayan

2. Neuro-psychiatric and drug test and National Police clearances

3. Gun Safety and Responsible Gun Ownership Seminar Certificate

4.  NSO birth certificate

5. Prof. of latest billing

6. Two valid IDs, one of which should be government-issued

7. Income Tax Return, Certificate of Employment or Business Permit

8. For government employees, copy of Appointment Order, Oath of Office

9. For military reservists, J9 clearance

10. For Overseas Filipino Workers, certificate of employment

11. For retired government employees, Retirement Order or appropriate document.

As Gen. Oppus said, the new law is as simple as applying for a driver’s license, which entitles one to drive as many cars as he wants, provided all the vehicles are duly registered. However, with the revised law, the FEO is now duly apprised of what firearms and how many firearms any given individual owns in the Philippines.  As of Dec. 2013, there are 1,739,000 registered firearms. Of this number about 600,000 still have to be renewed, but the PNP has yet to determine how many people own all these firearms.

Before one can buy a firearm, he has to apply for a license, after which he can proceed with the sale and then proceed to register the firearm. The FEO stresses the need to complete all the requirements. With less human intervention in the technically more superior system, and assuming that all requirements have been met, the applicant should receive an SMS notifying him of the status of his application. The FEO has resorted to using the courier system for delivery of licenses because they have found it more efficient while serving as a double- check for all given addresses on the application form.

Gen. Oppus advises all gun owners whose licenses are set to expire in November or December of this year to prepare all the requirements by mid-year to avoid any hitches, and then re- register all firearms with expiring registration. Include all firearms already when you register. There are different types of licenses, with different fees, depending on how many guns one owns, and we shall discuss types one to five next week. Unlike before, an expired license now, even for just one day, spells big trouble for the gun owner—it is not as simple as paying the necessary fines. Upon expiration of a gun license, one can be apprehended for illegal possession of firearms, which carries a jail term. Failure to renew will mean a revocation of the license and of the registration of the firearm(s) under the said licensees.

All types of licenses shall be renewed every two years, and registration of the firearm shall be renewed every four years. Failure to renew the registration shall also cause the revocation of the license of the firearm.

As stressed previously by Major Zapata, and emphatically repeated by Gen. Louie Oppus the days of non-appearance for the neuro-psychiatric and drug tests and the gun safety seminar are now over. After completing all the tests and submission of all documentary requirements, the applicant will personally have his biometrics taken, including his photograph.  Gen. Oppus informed me that they uncovered fake neuro-psychiatric test results in the past, and found no less than five persons with exactly the same results, down to the periods and hyphens. The Criminal Investigation & Detection Service is now investigating this, and the FEO is now bent on using only their own health service and crime laboratory facilities for the psychiatric exams and drug tests.

As for the Gun Safety and Responsible Gun Ownership Seminar Certificate, there is no getting away from it either—the FEO itself offers this seminar for free, though they have also authorized only FEO-accredited gun clubs to conduct these seminars. They have signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Range Officers Institute to police their own ranks together with the accredited gun clubs, and the FEO is authorized to conduct on-site random tests on gun club members who have been given gun safety seminar clearances to check if these gun owners are indeed aware of and practice the necessary safety measures in handling firearms.

One of the requirements for license to own and possess a firearm is proof of billing, and any one of the following is acceptable to the FEO: Meralco, PLDT or credit card billing which again serves as a double check of the applicant’s address. You will be surprised at how many fake addresses they have uncovered in previous years, and with the new courier system and the proof of billing requirement, this is hopefully now totally avoided.

The Income Tax Return, Certificate of Employment or Business Permit serve as proof of income. The cost of the firearms alone and the attendant fees do not come cheap, so one must be able to show proof that he is financially able to own a gun. As for the schedule of fees and other charges, the same has yet to be signed and released, although Gen. Oppus says that government officials get 50% discount, while senior citizens get the 20% discount as stipulated in the Senior Citizens Act.

Next week, we shall cover other salient points like the PTCOR (Permit to Carry Outside of Residence), PTT (Permit to Transport) and other important points to know about the new gun law.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

For comments (email) [email protected] / [email protected]           



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