US Army reservist nabbed for carrying gun into airport
The airport authority reminded gun owners to secure police permits for their firearms before boarding flights, after a retired US Army reservist was stopped over the weekend for carrying a pistol and at least 50 bullets in his baggage.
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Jose Angel Honrado said commercial airline passengers were required to get a permit to transport their guns from the Philippine National Police before being allowed to bring them.
Honrado issued the reminder following the arrest of 50-year-old American James Edward Hill Jr. on Sunday evening, after police seized a 9-mm caliber pistol and 57 pieces of ammunition found in his trolley bag.
His arrest came three days before the Commission on Elections was scheduled to lift a gun ban it had earlier imposed.
“In the Philippines, the PNP is strict when it comes to checking clearances for the transport of such items whether in small quantities or large shipments. Regardless of the quantity or purpose of transport, the public is advised to secure documents with the police prior to the date of departure,” Honrado said in a statement.
Honrado said that the American tourist apparently did not know the country’s procedure for the transportation of guns and ammunition, since policies on the matter vary internationally while each air carrier has its own regulations on the matter.
He advised passengers to exercise diligence in inquiring with their airline and their country of destination about the policies on the transport of guns and ammunition.
Hill, who was supposed to be a passenger of a Guam-bound flight, was intercepted at the initial security screening checkpoint of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 1 when screening officers detected the banned cargo after his luggage went through the X-ray scanner.
The retired Army reservist told the PNP Aviation Security Group (PNP-Avsegroup) that he did not know that the firearm and ammunition needed clearance from the police before it was transported, saying that the airline representative he spoke to told him to just put the gun in its safety case.
He claimed that the airline representative did not tell him that a permit from the police was necessary. The 9-mm pistol was a gift from his Filipino relatives, he said.
The Avsegroup confiscated the pistol and the ammunition and charged the American national with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition as well as violation of the Comelec gun ban in the Pasay City prosecutor’s office.
According to the Avsegroup, airline passengers who wish to transport firearms and ammunition must secure a permit to transport from the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (PNP-FEO).
The PNP-FEO will then coordinate with the Avsegroup’s firearm facilitator at the airport on the gun owner’s date of departure.
Upon coordination with the police desk at the airport, the firearm facilitator will accompany the passenger to the Bureau of Customs for clearance before he is checked-in for the flight.
For gun enthusiasts, specifically those who participate in shooting competitions abroad, the gun has to be surrendered to the Avsegroup’s firearm depository after the passenger secures an importation permit. The passenger is then referred to the airline for check-in.
Apart from the permit to transport, the PNP-FEO issues other related documents, including: license to operate; importation permit; authorization to export; and certificate of balance, depending on the purpose for the transportation of the firearm.