It is with great sadness that we learn that an infant was killed by a stray bullet following the New Year’s Eve festivities. The three-month-old boy was sleeping in his crib when a bullet penetrated the roof of his family’s home in Ilocos Sur.
We recall that last year, in Metro Manila, a young girl who was playing outside her family’s house was also hit by a stray bullet. She, too, died.
The terrible thing is that the perpetrator of that crime was never caught. Although the Philippine National Police (PNP) followed some leads, they were never able to determine who fired the fatal shot.
What is it with some of our gun-mad countrymen, anyway?
Are they not aware of the simple law of physics that says, “What goes up must come down?”
When a bullet is shot into the air, it must come down at a velocity that can kill whoever it hits.
We are hoping against hope that the PNP will be able to trace the perpetrator of this year’s senseless killing. Whoever did it will probably be charged with manslaughter, although in our book that shooter must be charged with nothing less than homicide.
The government has not been lax in airing warnings against blindly shooting firearms into the air. Further, the PNP as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) make a big deal over “sealing” the guns of our men in uniform in the days leading to New Year’s Eve.
Theoretically, the guns remain sealed until the day after New Year’s Day, when our policemen and soldiers go back to their normal routine of keeping the peace.
In all likelihood, therefore, the shootings that result in the deaths of innocent civilians have been committed by civilians too. Those who understand ballistics know that the fatal bullets can be traced to particular guns, but only if the firearms are duly registered.
This can only mean that the guns are probably unregistered, either smuggled firearms or locally made paltiks, which are virtually untraceable.
It may be too late now, but perhaps next year and the years to come, the public can take a greater role in catching the perpetrators of what must qualify as the most useless crime imaginable. It may be a good idea for the PNP to have a hotline dedicated to incoming calls or text messages from the public reporting incidents of indiscriminate firing of guns.
With such a hotline, the PNP and even the AFP can keep a record of all reports. When a stray bullet kills, maims or injures a civilian, it would be easier to triangulate the position of whoever fired his weapon. Subsequently, the shooter can be identified, and subjected to tests for powder burns.
Thus far, no one has yet been caught, much less prosecuted, for firing his (or her) gun in the air that resulted in casualties.
All the national and local governments have to do is to nab one perpetrator and throw the book at him. Make him an example. Hopefully, the time will come when the firing of guns into the air on New Year’s Eve will be a practice of the past.