Following an incident in which a 14-year-old boy opened fire at Siam Paragon, a shopping mall, on Tuesday, October 3, the Thai government is pushing forward with measures to control firearms.
The incident tragically killed a Chinese tourist and a Myanmar worker. It also injured several others, including a Thai woman who suffered serious head injuries from the gunshot.
On October 5, two suspects, Suwanhong, Brahmin, 44, and Akkharawit Jaithong, 22, were arrested in Yala province for selling blank guns without a permit to a 14-year-old gunman. The other one was detained in Bangkok.
Piyabut Phianpitak, 31, was apprehended at his work place on Rama 3 Road nearby while having two blank guns and ammunition. He acted as a middleman who received guns from a father and son in Yala Province. and then sent it to a 14-year-old child who bought it.
Separately, Wirayut Nateetharat, a 41-year-old Phuket resident, was apprehended at a residence in the Pracha Uthit area. Police discovered that this house was being utilised as a production and modification facility for BB guns and blank firearms.
Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister, and the Ministry of Interior, at the same time, instructed the Director General of the Provincial Administration to take measures to restrict the carrying of firearms by ordinary citizens. This decision is in response to individuals who wish to carry firearms for self-defence purposes and will now only be allowed by authorised individuals, such as law enforcement officers.
In addition, they review laws and regulations regarding firearms and imitation firearms that pose a danger to the public, including a BB gun that can be converted to dangerous weapons. Recommendations are to be made on how to better control these items and more stringent regulations are enacted.
With respect to shooting ranges, Anutin proposed to restrict access and prohibit persons who are not of legal age from shooting in these facilities. Individuals who claim they need to carry firearms for training purposes will also be subject to stricter controls, and there could be regulations requiring them to keep their firearms at the ranges instead of carrying them around.
Yongyut Wongpiromsant, advisor to the Department of Mental Health, stressed the urgent need to address the issue of firearms, as failure to do so could lead to problems similar to those in the United States, where gun control remains a challenge. He emphasised that Thailand’s Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Fireworks Act has remained untouched since 1947.
In addition, the country needs to develop mental health services nationwide to address problems that often lead to violence. Adequate funding and plans to support true mental health services must be established to respond to escalating problems and prevent further violence.
“Mass media coverage can influence behaviour and imitation, leading to a future incident. It is important that society reduce hatred and hostility towards the families of perpetrators. This includes digging up information about the families of the perpetrators, because in our society everyone is a victim, and it is important to avoid violating personal rights,” Yongyut stressed.