July 29 - Filipino gunsmiths honed in making counterfeit handguns join a factory that exports arms to the U.S. Michaela Cabrera reports.
Joffrey Landero learned how to make guns as a teenager. He comes from the town of Danao in central Philippines, known for producing firearms sold on the black market. Hundreds of these men have now opted out of the illegal trade and have been hired by Shooters Arms Manufacturing - whose factory exports guns to the U.S., Europe and Australia. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino) GUN ASSEMBLER AT SHOOTERS ARMS MANUFACTURING, JOFFREY LANDERO, SAYING: "I'm no longer scared, because we're now doing this legally. Back at home, we were always hiding." With their nimble hands - the men churn out high-quality revolvers and pistols. Factory owner, Romulo de Leon, knows he's hit upon a unique advantage. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino) CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF SHOOTERS ARMS MANUFACTURING, ROMULO DE LEON, SAYING: "I heard stories about them, from way before - that they are really good. No need to train them (in gun making)." Moves such as employing underground gunsmiths are helping legalize such sectors of the industry, turning them into dollar-generating assets. The industry has predicted a 10 percent growth in the next five years, fueled by a growing demand for small arms, primarily in the U.S. But hundreds of thousands of illegal firearms still fall into the hands of civilians or rebel groups, and many backyard workshops still exist. Nandy Pacheco heads a lobby group called the Gunless Society. He says incidents like the recent shooting in Colorado are reminders of the consequences of liberal gun laws. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino) FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF GUNLESS SOCIETY, NANDY PACHECO, SAYING: "There are many good things we can imitate about America (but) but why in heaven's name do we have to imitate the bad ones- the gun culture, violence?" The Gunless Society is pushing for a law that makes it a crime for civilians to carry guns in public, but the proposal has yet to find support in the government. Michaela Cabrera, Reuters.