Proposed 'gun tax' to address loose firearms problem--Villafuerte

Making gun ownership more expensive in the Philippines will reduce the proliferation of loose firearms.

(Maxx/ Unsplash)

That's the premise of House Bill (HB) No.3367, mainly authored by Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte.

In essence, the measure seeks to promote responsible gun ownership by making these weapons more expensive for citizens who are not in law enforcement and using new taxes on owners to fund programs against gun-related violence.

Villafuerte said there's anywhere from 700,000 to 1.7 million loose firearms in the Philippines.

This proposal, which shall be known as the“Firearms, Ammunition and Accessories Tax Act” (FAAT), seeks to introduce amendments to Republic Act (RA) No. 10591, otherwise known as the “Act Providing for a Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition and providing Penalties for Violations thereof".

“Our bill uses a novel approach to address this peace-and-order issue,” Villafuerte, majority leader of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA).

“Through a market-based strategy, HB No.3367 aims to reduce the number of guns in circulation by raising the cost of ownership while using tax revenue to actually promote preventive and capacity-building measures for the professionals responsible for regulating the gun industry in the country," he explained.

The bill imposes a 10 percent tax on small firearms or handguns, ammunition, and accessories, and a higher 11 percent tax on other firearms along with the ammunition of, and add-ons or attachments to, such weapons.

“This is not just about gun control; it is also a means to raise extra revenue for our government as the domestic economy, which grew by a record 7.6 percent last year—the highest since 1976’s 8.8 percent—is expected by our economic managers and institutions such as the UN (United Nations), World Bank and ADB (Asian Development Bank) to hurdle speed bumps to high growth, along with other East Asian economies, arising from this year’s elevated inflation and escalating living expenses, high interest rates, and weaker export demand from affluent states because of a looming global recession,” Villafuerte explained.

RA No.10591 defines a “loose firearm” as an “unregistered weapon, an obliterated or altered firearm, firearm which has been lost or stolen, illegally manufactured firearm, registered firearm in possession of an individual other than the licensee and those with revoked licenses in accordance with the rules and regulations".

The law defines small arms as firearms for individual use and “intended to be fired from the hand or shoulder, which are not capable of fully automatic bursts of discharge".

Villafuerte's co-authors in HB No.3367 were Camarines Sur Reps. Miguel Luis Villafuerte (5th district) and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata (1st district), and Bicol Saro Party-list Rep. Nicolas Enciso VIII.