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Earlier this week, Jay Stainback submitted an article for publication here on LiP, entitles “Have gun will travel… just not in the Philippines“. It is a good article and generated lots of response.

Over my years of my living in the Philippines, 18 years and counting… There are two issues which generate a lot of rancor and discussion among expats living in the Philippines:

49 Ways to Make a Living in the Philippines
  1. Ownership of firearms. Mostly Americans get upset about the inability of foreigners to own firearms. The USA is a country where firearms are legal for private citizens to own, and most Americans feel that it is their right to bear arms. It is their right… in the USA. But, if you decide to move to the Philippines you no longer have that right. Your rights do not travel with you when you leave the USA.
  2. Land ownership. This article is not about land ownership, but I just wanted to mention it because these are the two topics that are always a hotbed for expats.

Let’s talk about guns

I have always been a strong proponent of the 2nd Amendment in the US Constitution, which gives American Citizens the right to keep and bear arms. When I lived in the USA, I owned guns, and I used them. I owned two guns at the time I left the country to move to the Philippines:

  1. 12 Guage Shotgun
  2. 357 Magnum Revolver
Second Amendment gives right to bear arms but not in the Philippines

Second Amendment gives right to bear arms but not in the Philippines

I mostly did target practice, and some hunting (very little). Shot some skeet a few times. I never had a problem with private individuals owning firearms provided they did it legally. Some people cannot legally own firearms, such as ex-cons, mentally ill people, etc. This is, in my view, as it should be.

When we decided to move to the Philippines it was hard for me to give up my guns. In fact, I held onto them until the very last day just before I went to the airport. I could not decide what to do with the firearms and just held on. On that last day, my brother was there to see us off, and I handed him the guns and asked if he would like to have them. He said, yes, so I told him “Merry Christmas” or something like that. As far as I know, he still has the guns.

I understood that in the Philippines, I could not legally own firearms, and I accepted that. I decided that I had more of a desire to live in the Philippines than to own guns. So, I gave up my guns.

The Consequences

A thing I hear often from foreigners and was expressed in the comment discussion from Jay’s article was that in the event of a threat against his family, the foreigner says “I would protect my family and accept the consequences”.

While I understand this feeling, I am not so sure that it is the right way to think.

I mean, a lot of the people who say this are not yet living in the Philippines. In my opinion, if you are not yet living in the Philippines, you have the opportunity to learn what the laws are before making the decision about moving. Most people who read this site already know that a foreigner cannot legally own firearms in the Philippines. So, while you are sitting in your home country and considering a move to the Philippines, you can (should) say to yourself:

I understand that I cannot legally own a firearm, am I willing to live under that law?

If you find that you are not willing to obey the law, in my view, you should just decide to remain where you currently live and are comfortable with the laws. To decide to move to the Philippines with the intention of not following the law of the Philippines is, in my opinion, not the right thing to do.

Like I say, I am an advocate of gun rights. But, I understand the law here and I am willing to give up my ability/right to bear arms as part of living here. I don’t feel and have never experienced, a real threat here. But, bad things can happen anywhere, I accept that.

Anyway, these are my thoughts on the topic.

Posted in , ,

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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rblevy
rblevy
4 years ago

Many Americans complain about foreigners who continue to follow own their traditions that are illegal in the U.S. But when these same people go abroad, they can’t understand why the get in trouble for breaking local laws that clash with their own customs. These ”ugly Americans” deserve that pejorative for not taking the time and trouble to ”know before they go.”

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  rblevy

Oh that is a very good point which I had not thought of.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago

I just found out by the American Media that shoplifting is also illegal outside of the country, can you imagine that?

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Ha ha.. indeed, Paul. In fact, it is not a big deal in the USA, why would any stores get upset about it? LOL

Panama C
Panama C
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Paul, I think you didn’t read the law. It’s not illegal if you get an MO from Trump. 😉

John Miele
4 years ago

Bob: In the ten years I have lived here, I have never felt threatened enough to feel the need for a gun by any Filipinos. I have, however, been directly threatened by other expats. Directly as a result of the article I wrote here, on LiP, about guns several years ago. As a result of that article, I received three death threats from AMERICANS, via Facebook messenger. It was one of the reasons I stopped writing on here. It was one of the reasons I no longer accept new friends on Facebook unless I personally know them. It was one… Read more »

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  John Miele

Hi John. Many of the experiences you describe mirror what has happened to mm e. I am generally pro gun, but if you move here you have to know the law ad should follow it.

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago

Hmm… ?

Do you know the laws here?
When you say follow it does not sound like it, some of their laws are impossible.

They got a law against being annoying, I might break that one right now.
But who does not at one point? ?

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago
Reply to  John Miele

Many foreigners here is those who for some reason can not do well abroad, they seem to be faster to anger.

I understand why they get targeted by PNP, anger don’t work well here.

Gary Neil Dadds
Gary Neil Dadds
4 years ago

Hi Bob there are actually four hot topic amongst expats, 1. gun ownership, 2. land ownership, 3. how to get around gun laws, 4. how to get around land ownership laws.

Bob - Expat Answer Man

Ha ha… 3 I’d just an extension of 1, same with 2 and 4. LOL

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago

I agree, they make loop holes for every thing here.
But some better then others… ?

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago

Hi Bob, Law only states a foreigner can’t own a permit, but with a good Mission Order from PNP you can get a gun (ask your Lawyer, I did). Regarding owning Lot you can A. Rent it 50 years + 25 years times two or B. Use a Company 60/40 rule (unless President Duterte change it). Most of the PNP think I carry because I am a Guardian Supremo, but I don’t as a Dane I dislike guns and been here 11 years now without one. I also know foreigners with huge gun collection, who loan it to local PNP… Read more »

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  Jan Jensen

My home lea , it is this… Good luck to you.

Anybody who’s been here for some time would know that what it says on a paper and the way that the law actually enforced are two completely different things.

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago

Like I said I been here 11 years and as high Rank in Guardians most of my Brothers are PNP, AFP and Politicians. Got a PNP General on my Facebook I talk to and can call brother, also many Lawyers.

You are on of the few Foreigners I know who think you know better then these people?

Gary Neil Dadds
Gary Neil Dadds
4 years ago
Reply to  Jan Jensen

Philippine lawyer are renowned for telling you what you want to hear, both regarding guns and land, there’s a law against misusing the company law. I believe you can’t sue a lawyer in the Philipiines.

Bob - Expat Answer Man

My thoughts exactly.

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago

Have you ever tired a case, for or against you?

I tried both and not all lie, many foreigners do to.

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  Jan Jensen

My reply was to Paul. He is American. Perhaps you did not realize.

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago

Can be difficult to see on my CP, the posts appear right after each other? ?

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  Jan Jensen

As you said, Jan… spreading false information is illegal. Better watch out for the boogie man!

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago

You know you can according to the law own a gun and MO, not permit.

But is it a good idea…. No

PNP can throw people in jail with no proof at all, happen to me for 5 days on a non-bail case.

Why give them any reason, even if you got the MO and law on your side?
PNP might not believe it, there is a risk.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Jan Jensen

Bob;
So your post is wrong? Traveling to another country and obeying that countries laws, what a concept.

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  Paul Thompson

I know, what a novel concept that we Americans should follow the law of the country where we decide to live. But, damnit, those foreigners who come into the USA better follow US laws and customs!

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago

I am not from USA, but Danmark.

But i do follow Laws here, your post shows you dont know how to read the Law here…

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago

Or they enter America, but “Know” the right people, they can ignor any laws on the books, if you hire the right lawyers.
!

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Similar to here, but not being from US i can not say… ?

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

First he misread the Law, it says Premits not ownership (not the same as Lawyers told me).

How does he obey the Laws, if he dont know how to read them?

Pres. Duterte just signed a Law saying spreading false information online is illegal…

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  Jan Jensen

Jan, if you don’t like what I write here, you are free to go elsewhere. I can arrange that if you like.

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago

Sounds like a treat? ?

Go ahead and arrange, as a Guardian we got Brothers in all Police stations down here?

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  Jan Jensen

I believe you mean it sounds like a threat, not a treat.

it is not a threat, but I am free to ban users as I am the site owner. If it gets down to where it is too much hassle dealing with you, I can ban you. Nothing illegal about it, this is a private site, and as the owner it is my choice.

Jan Jensen
Jan Jensen
4 years ago

So rather trust a foreigner, unlike him I integrated and talked with many Lawyers, PNP and fiscals about this… I am in same Brotherhood as President Duterte, on my FB you can see pictures with me and two PNP Generals, Lawyers, Mayors etc.
I been here 11 years and mostly talk to people here, you really think they all lie? ?

You can Sue anybody here, it is a broken system. I tired cases against me and also filling, it comes more down to money and contacts, which a Lawyer seem to have.

Jay Stainback
Jay Stainback
4 years ago

Hi Bob, I agree with you if you are a person who feels they cannot live a happy secure life without possessing a firearm then they should not move to the Philippines. The same goes with owning land in their own name. I would personally have no problem with obeying Filipino gun laws if I were to move to the Philippines. I think the problem comes that some Americans feel owning a gun is a God given right. I am not one of those Americans, but I understand why they feel that way. The Bill of Rights is seen as… Read more »

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  Jay Stainback

You pretty much mirrored my thoughts exactly, Jay.

There are a lot of “bad apple” expats in the Philippines (and tourists too). It is not only the USA where people can come into the country very freely, but the vast majority of countries around the world. People from most any 1st World Nation can enter the Philippines by showing only a passport. Actually, the same is true for entering the USA for many people. From most European countries, and other places, the visa waiver program exists in the USA too.

Paul Richard Robertson
Paul Richard Robertson
4 years ago
Reply to  Jay Stainback

To keep my wife happy we moved from a comfortable home in Thailand where I had lived for 30 years (armed) and my wife was with me for 8 of those years to her family area where I had built a house but never actually lived in it. The home is in the hottest kidnapping area in the PI. I don’t have much money and live off my pensions but Abu Sayef does not know that. As an old Marine I would feel safer with a good sidearm but it is not likely with these laws so I just hope… Read more »

Jay Stainback
Jay Stainback
4 years ago

Hi Paul,

I think if I were you I would move, but I am not you. My understanding is that a standard Abu Sayef kidnapping involves 10 to 12 well armed men. I do not think you and a sidearm could stop that. If I am wrong about what a standard Abu Sayef kidnapping someone correct me. I am going from what I have heard reported. Take care of yourself and family.

Peace

Jay

Bob - Expat Answer Man

Hi Paul. It is at the point where the ASG can strike anywhere in the country. They have even hit Manila. The biggest kidnapping incident that the ASG carried out, in 2000, the Burnham et al kidnapping happened on Palawan. So, it can happen anywhere. Being right there where the action is, though… is certainly more danger.

Bob - Expat Answer Man

Excellent point! Something for people to think about.

BradleyHart
BradleyHart
4 years ago

This article did bring up a question for me since my filipina wants me to eventually get my naturalized citizenship, MOSTLY to make our little real estate empire easier to manage. What gun rights do naturalized citizens have.

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  BradleyHart

I am sorry to give you bad news, but naturalized citizenship does not give you land ownership rights, only Natural Born Filipinos can own land.

I am sorry, I don’t know about gun rights, it is not something I have ever looked into.

Cordillera Cowboy
Cordillera Cowboy
4 years ago

Hello Bob, Folks who really want to know can google Republic Act 10591, signed into law in 2013. That law superseded R.A. 8294, which was in effect when John Miele wrote his article on the subject. My internet is pretty slow tonight, so I haven’t been able to download the full text. When I can read it for myself, I’ll weigh in on the legalities as I see them. For myself, the odds of me getting into a situation that would require a firearm to get out of are miniscule. Keeping one where I could get to it in a… Read more »

Cordillera Cowboy
Cordillera Cowboy
4 years ago

OK, I was able to get a synopsis of R.A. 10591 to download. Still waiting on the full text. “In order to qualify and acquire a license to own and POSSESS (emphasis mine) a firearm or firearms and ammunition, the applicant must be a FILIPINO CITIZEN (emphasis again mine), at least 21 years old and has gainful work, occupation or business or has filed an income tax return as proof of income, profession, business or occupation.” The next paragraph is a laundry list of certifications issued by appropriate authorities the applicant must submit. Next is a list of 5 types… Read more »

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