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Calls are being made for stricter gun control measures in the Philippines.

Observers in the Philippines said getting a gun in the country was easy. They added getting a gun legally would take some effort – including passing a neuropsychiatric – but it was not hard to do so.

But more than just measures, observers said the culture of impunity also needed greater scrutiny.

Gun owner Carlos said: “If you have the money and the connection, just like with acquiring an illegal firearm, you can get a permit. You don’t even have to show up there”.

According to the national police, for every one of the 1.3 million licensed guns in the country, there’s an unlicensed gun or loose firearm.

Fears are that such unlicensed firearms could end up in the hands of criminals or terrorists.

Ateneo de Manila University’s Dr Jennifer Oreta said: “Most of the crime committed are actually using illegal guns rather than legal ones.

“So there’s a problem in enforcement but there’s also a problem in terms of penalties as regard to illegal possession, manufacture and trade of guns in the Philippines”.

Several bills on stiffer penalties for illegal firearms possession are now being discussed.

Proposals include higher jail terms and fines and making certain offences unbailable.

One big contention is whether people caught possessing firearm parts like barrels and firing pins should be arrested on the assumption of possible illegal activity.

Source: Geraldine Soh for Channelnewsasia.com.

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