Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State
of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
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Gun control and community fear
In the U.S.

Recently, we Americans found ourselves watching the news on the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history which happened
in Las Vegas, where 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured. The shooter targeted an outdoor concert crowd, using
high-powered guns perched on his hotel’s broken windows on the 32nd floor. Right away, I thought about other mass
shootings that shook our country this decade: Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Pulse Nightclub, and asked
myself, “Why is this happening?”

The tendency is to look for the motives or believe that the shooter must be out of his mind, a mental case. The focus seems
to be distracted that the main reason all those mass shootings happened is not given enough attention—guns.

Apparently, the Las Vegas shooter legally purchased his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, and NO ONE raised a red
flag! Not even my kababayan, the Filipina girlfriend of the shooter (Stephen...) who must have known about her partner’s
arms collection, nor the gun stores where Stephen bought various killing machines.

As of this writing, we woke up again to hear about a mass shooting inside a church in Texas, killing more than 25 people
and injuring more.

Incidents like this sow fear in the community we all live in. We’re now afraid we’ll be gunned down anytime while we are
enjoying a music fest in our cities, praying inside a church, or simply shopping inside a crowded mall.

We ought to restart the gun control debate! We ought to re-regulate issuance of gun licenses, making sure number and type
of guns are extremely necessary to protect people and property. High-powered guns and weapons of mass destruction
should ONLY be for our military, in case of wars, and not for ordinary people who, while financially able to purchase the
same, DO NOT really need them for “protection.” Wealthy folks whose hobbies include gun collection must also be looked
at. Nobody should be exempt from re-regulating gun ownership to avoid a repeat of the Las Vegas massacre.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) claims that since America is dangerous, Americans should own a gun to protect
themselves. The truth is, statistics have shown that more fatal accidents happen in the home of gun owners! Where’s the
protection there?

Let us stop thinking politics here. We really need a gun-control law that would save Americans from fear and being killed.


In the Philippines

In the Philippines, the use of guns by riders in tandem executing so-called “extra judicial killings” is a daily occurrence,
making early news as soon as you wake up and turn on the radio. People are afraid that they would be gunned down
anytime, or that their young sons could be executed by the police, like the teenagers who were claimed to have committed
drug pushing or robbery. President Duterte’s war on drugs – while may be unintended – brushed aside the courts, wiping
out drug suspects in droves. When results of a survey revealed that majority of Filipinos believe that the right of suspects
held  by the Philippine National Police on drug charges is disregarded, the PNP Chief called the critics “Ingrato” (thankless),
adding that they benefit from the peace and order now being experienced by the country. What “peace and order” are we
talking about here? Well, the dead is at peace per the order of...

In fairness to President Duterte though, I am impressed by his tough stance against illegal drugs and his focus on
cleansing corrupt offices of the government. Filipinos truly need a very very strong man as leader, otherwise, nothing will
happen, nothing will change. However, he cannot completely control his law enforcers, though some of them have been
sacked for their crimes. People are scared because a lot of scalawags are still out there powered with badges and guns.
Additionally, none so far of the riding-in-tandem gunners has been apprehended, when they have killed hundreds of people
already in various communities.

In this case, no gun control law is being followed by the gunners.  There’s no such thing as gun control here, sorry. There’s a
law but no one follows it, not even by some law enforcers! I said “some” because there are still lots of law enforcers who are
doing their best at their jobs. However, the rotten eggs make the whole police force look bad.

Recently, Duterte removed the main responsibility on drug war from the police and placed it on the Phil. Drug Enforcement
Agency (PDEA), hoping the action would decrease drug-related deaths on a daily basis. We’re hoping the same...and also,
that the police would now focus on the riding-in-tandem killers on the streets.