Thailand introduces stringent gun control measures after mall shootings

06 Oct 2023 08:58am
Siam Paragon in Bangkok
Siam Paragon in Bangkok
BANGKOK - Thailand has implemented stringent gun control measures following a recent shooting incident at a downtown Bangkok shopping mall that claimed two lives and left five injured.

These include the suspension of permits for the import and sale of all firearms, including imitations.

To address gun violence, the Interior Ministry is initiating eight short-term measures to regulate the importation, trade, and ownership of firearms.

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who also serves as the Interior Minister, announced that owners of blank and BB guns, as well as imitation firearms, will be required to register with authorities.

Anutin emphasised that the Customs Department will heighten inspections of firearms imports that can be altered to discharge live ammunition.

"Additionally, the Sports Authority of Thailand will prohibit all shooting ranges from allowing young people under 20 years old to practice shooting, unless they are a competitive shooter. All firearms brought to the ranges must be registered, and ammunition must not be removed. Besides that, guns belonging to shooting ranges must be kept inside the facilities,” he said.

Anutin convened a meeting with relevant agencies, including the Royal Thai Police, Customs Department, Digital Economy and Society Ministry, and Public Health Ministry, to discuss both short- and long-term measures for gun control in the wake of the Siam Paragon Mall incident.

The Deputy Prime Minister clarified that provincial governors will refrain from issuing permits for individuals to carry guns in public. He also stated that the welfare gun programme will not be extended to the general public.

However, law enforcement officials with crime prevention and suppression duties will be required to carry a firearm, with transfers strictly prohibited. Furthermore, the opening of new gun shops has been suspended.
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Anutin outlined collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the Royal Thai Police to shut down websites involved in the illegal sale and modification of firearms.

Regarding long-term measures, Anutin explained that existing gun control laws and regulations will be subject to review and amendment. This will include a mandate for gun buyers to produce a mental health certificate attesting to their fitness to own a firearm.

Existing gun owners will be obliged to renew their licences every five or ten years, and undergo shooting tests and fingerprint identification.

"The definition of ‘gun replicas’ will be redefined to make it clear that they are different from blank-firing or BB guns, which can be modified to fire live ammunition,” he said.

In a tragic incident on Tuesday, a 14-year-old gunman used a modified blank-firing pistol to discharge live rounds, resulting in the deaths of a Chinese and Myanmar national as well as five others being injured - all within the Siam Paragon Mall. The teenager faces five charges including premeditated murder and illegal possession of a firearm.

While mass shootings are infrequent in Thailand, this marks the third gun-related attack in recent years. In 2020, a soldier carried out a rampage in Nakhon Ratchasima, killing 29 people and injuring 58.

On Oct 6 of the same year, 36 people, including 24 children, lost their lives in a gun and knife attack at a childcare centre in Nong Bua Lamphu province, making it the deadliest incident of its kind in the country's history. - BERNAMA