Abandoned Vol. 6 No. 6 June 2022 | Page 4

But while gun ownership does not take center stage in Guam ’ s public discourse , the related issue of self-defense tends to cleave our community .


Gun laws and Castle Doctrine

It happened . Again .

The horrific school shooting that killed 19 children and two adults in Uvalde , Texas has been added to America ’ s growing gun violence statistics . The shocking part is that mass shootings at schools have become such a common slice of American life that they have lost their shock value . They have seemingly numbed Americans .
Over the years , the gun control debate has waxed and waned . With gun ownership rooted in the Second Amendment , the debate always hits a stalemate .
Because of America ’ s weak gun laws , it ’ s easy for U . S . residents to obtain a gun , sometimes without any sort of background check . The Uvalde gunman easily and legally purchased two AR-15-style rifles — notwithstanding the lack of a sensible reason to allow an 18-year-old to own such weapons .
The U . S . has 46 percent of the world ’ s civilian-owned guns , according to a 2018 report by the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey .
From 1998 through 2019 , the U . S . recorded 101 mass shootings , according to a study by William Paterson University . And , according to the latest statistics , there has been a total of 288 school shootings in the U . S . so far this year .
Logic suggests that there are more fatal shootings in places where gun policies are loose . But gun rights advocates insist statistics do not indicate a causal link .
Other countries , including Britain , Canada , New Zealand , Australia and Norway , have tightened their gun laws after being stung by mass shootings .
“ When , in God ’ s name , are we going
But while gun ownership does not take center stage in Guam ’ s public discourse , the related issue of self-defense tends to cleave our community .
to stand up to the gun lobby ?” President Biden asked after the Uvalde shooting .
It is , of course , a rhetorical question .
Fortunately , this issue is not as polarizing on Guam as it is in the mainland . Guam prides itself for having one of the strictest gun laws in the U . S . One needs to get an FBI background check and clearance from ATF . Guam law doesn ' t authorize civilian residents to possess a fully automatic weapon . Only SWAT or other law enforcement agents are allowed to own this weapon .
But while gun ownership does not take center stage in Guam ’ s public discourse , the related issue of self-defense tends to cleave our community .
Earlier this year , Sen . Joe San Agustin has introduced Bill 12-36 , which proposes to amend Guam ’ s five-year-old Castle Doctrine law to eliminate the requirement for retreating before resorting to a deadly response .
This proposal , which has been introduced and defeated in previous legislatures , triggers the same fervor as the gun debate .
In earlier statements , San Agustin sought to reassure the community that his bill does not seek to “ to open up the wild , wild west in Guam . It does not give you the license to kill .”
But it ’ s a slippery slope .
Even Guam ’ s legal sector gave this bill the thumbs down , citing studies indicating that “ such laws did not deter theft , burglary or assault and that states with such laws have higher homicide and firearm homicide rates .”
But why do we need to tamper with the Castle Doctrine when Guam ’ s current self-defense statutes are solid enough to provide legal protection for those who feel the need to employ lethal force to defend themselves against imminent danger ?
“ I don ’ t know why Guam wants to be like Georgia or Texas or other places with stand-your-ground laws ,” former public defender Phillip Tydingco said , testifying against Bill 12-36 .
Under Guam law , deadly force may be used in self-defense under threat of death , serious bodily injury , kidnapping or rape , but one is required to retreat before resorting to deadly self-defense . When self-defense is claimed , the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that self-defense did not occur .
Tydingco , a self-confessed gun owner who also served as a prosecutor , argued that there is nothing wrong with retreating to de-escalate a dangerous situation .
Inserting a new clause , Tydingco said , would only render ambiguity and inconsistency in Guam ' s self-defense law . Bill 12-36 , if enacted into law , would turn Guam into a “ shoot-first-ask-question-later " jurisdiction that would scare away the island ' s visitors .
This is not the community we want Guam to become .
Publisher / Editor-in-Chief Mar-Vic Cagurangan publisher @ pacificislandtimes . com
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