Ex-senator urges Congress to include gun control bill in priority measures

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FORMER Senator Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr. has urged erstwhile colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives to include a bill seeking to impose a ban on gun ownership and impose stiffer penalties against irresponsible and unlicensed gun owners in the list of priorities when the 15th Congress resumes session this month.

Magsaysay issued the call as Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and House leaders are set to meet with senators in crafting a common legislative agenda for the resumption of session on January 21.

“Our senators and congressmen should vow to include the gun control measure in the list of priority bills. We trust our legislators to be at the forefront of protecting the lives of our unarmed and innocent citizens who become victims of senseless killings,” said Magsaysay, former chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security.

Congress will go on break in February in time for the campaign period for the midterm elections in May. Lawmakers will only have nine session days remaining to act on pending landmark measures.

Earlier, Magsaysay, an advocate of a gunless society since 1997, urged President Benigno C. Aquino III to certify as urgent pending gun control measures in Congress seeking to make the Commission on Elections’ gun ban in public permanent during election and off-election periods.

The President’s certification would pave the way for legislators to by-pass the three-day rule in between approvals on second and third readings. Also, the House and the Senate could dispense with a bicameral conference committee and approve similar bills in both chambers to enable the swift approval of the gun control bill.

In 2011, Magsaysay joined former senators and religious groups in calling on President Aquino to consolidate two bills—the proposed Citizen Protection Act of 2010 and the Firearms Regulation Act of 2010—and certify as urgent these two measures to deter street crimes.

Debates whether or not to enforce stricter gun control laws ensued after the death of two children in celebratory gunfire during the New Year revelries and a shooting rampage by a drugged man in Kawit, Cavite last week that killed eight people (including himself) and left 12 others wounded.

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