stray bullet victims

A Bloody New Year

Each year, for as long as I could remember, the new year would always bring more injuries and sometimes, death. From firecracker injuries to stray bullet victims, like clockwork it comes in and out.

When I was younger, my aunt, was standing by their door watching firecrackers explode in the sky. She was shot by a stray bullet. We never found out where it came from. She lived, but she was not the first, nor last victim. This year, a two year old boy became the second fatality.

The state of injuries from New Year’s day has somewhat improved in the last decade, though still counting in the hundreds. It used to be that leading up to midnight, firecrackers would explode everywhere. It had somewhat waned. The loudest explosions happen when right before the clock strikes twelve. The best years of reduced fatalities are when the health department would run a campaign to discourage firecracker use.

There have been suggestions, for years really, of a firecracker ban. Other jurisdictions have banned firecrackers. Davao has had a firecracker ban for 12 years running. The ban had measured success like in Zamboanga, and Davao with zero casualties.

Exploding firecrackers seem to be in our culture. It can’t seem to be stopped. Leading up to the New Year, for example, the lines going to Bulacan to buy firecrackers were long. There is an industry that revolves around firecrackers. It does employ people. Perhaps, an alternative to a total ban would be to charge higher prices. Perhaps, higher prices would mean better quality, and higher profit margins for the firecracker industry. Perhaps, an requiring insurance from buyers, and to penalize businesses who sell to people who do not have firecracker insurance would help reduce accidents and injuries. Insurance for use by people who fall victim to firecracker injuries. Insurance to pay not only for surgery and the emergency rooms, but also for rehabilitation, post new year. Added taxes could also be used to pay for PhilHealth coverage.

The same could, and should be required of gun owners. Bullets may kill, but irresponsible gun owners are the ones who pull the trigger. And with the state of police, few, if at all, could find the culprit.

It can also be argued that the all the fireworks help add to our already polluted air. Perhaps, a portion of those taxes could be spent in cleaning up the air as well. Like a carbon tax.

If car owners are required to pay for insurance, why shouldn’t people who own guns or who wish to spend money on firecrackers? If people are willing to burn their hard earned pesos for a few seconds to celebrate the coming of the New Year, why not put an added burden on them and not on taxpayers who wind up paying for a polluted air, not to mention paying government workers in hospitals to be on alert. Not to mention the grief and trouble inflicted on others. The onus should be on people willing to pay for firecrackers. It is only fair, don’t you think?