6 June 2024

The government plans to overhaul gun laws, to make it harder for people to acquire licensed firearms, to empower authorities to confiscate guns from people who are mentally unfit to own them and to grant amnesty and incentives for those in illegal possession of guns to surrender them to the authorities.

Today (Wednesday), Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha chaired the first meeting on gun and illegal narcotic control, with the Justice, Public Health and Interior ministries and the Royal Thai Police, in the aftermath of the mass murder in Nong Bua Lam Phu province last Thursday, in which 38 people, mostly young children, died, including the former police officer who committed the atrocity.

Prayut said the meeting was held to develop guidelines for solving the problem of drug abuse and gun-related violence effectively, including a review of laws concerning gun ownership and the carrying of guns in public.

He said that the meeting also discussed the idea of revoking the gun licenses of people who are deemed to be a threat to society or who are addicted to narcotics, adding that the meeting also discussed the problem of illegal firearms and the online sale of illegal firearms.

The prime minister said drug abuse was also discussed at the meeting, with a suggestion that drug addicts should be treated as patients who need to be treated and that the amount of methamphetamine pills in the possession of an individual that would constitute a criminal offence should be increased from five to fifteen.

It was agreed in the meeting that there is a need for public participation in the rehabilitation program for drug addicts and that drug screening facilities should be set up in every sub-district, to identify those who are addicted so they can get access to rehabilitation or psychiatric counselling for those who have mental problems due to heavy drug abuse.

The prime minister said that communities can play a pivotal role in dealing with drug abuse, but noted that the government has always been tough on illicit drug trafficking and gun violence, but the problems persist.

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, meanwhile, said that the new gun control measures to be proposed include the requirement for people to show a doctor’s certificate, indicating that they are mentally fit to own a gun, in addition to other requirements such as clean criminal record.

Another measure being considered is whether gun licenses should be renewed every 3 or 5 years. Currently, there is no need for a license to be renewed.

He said that the meeting also considered whether it is necessary for retired police officers to own a gun.

“These are changes which will happen,” he claimed.

According to a 2017 study, by the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, there were about 10 million guns in private ownership in Thailand. These include about six million licensed guns and four million illegal firearms.