Introducing a 12-year-old gun-cleaning girl

Introducing a 12-year-old gun-cleaning girl

Stripping, cleaning and reassembling assault rifles and other kinds of firearms is a  hobby for Salisa
Stripping, cleaning and reassembling assault rifles and other kinds of firearms is a hobby for Salisa "Lisa" Wasuwat, 12, who assists in her father with his gun-cleaning service in Chiang Mai and other northern provinces. (Photos by Cheewin Sattha)

CHIANG MAI -- A girl who loves her dad's profession has become a very young gun-cleaning professional, and can handle a wide range of firearms and strip and reassemble them in just a few minutes.

Salisa "Lisa" Wasuwat, 12, has impressed police officers in her native province, where she regularly accompanies her 51-year-old father when he goes to clean or repair guns at local police stations.

She accompanies him after school and on holidays and can competently dismantle and reassemble revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, shotguns and M16 rifles.

Lisa, who says she wants to be a police officer, takes less than 10 minutes to strip down a Smith & Wesson Model 686 Magnum revolver into 20 parts and put it back together again.

Semi-automatic pistols, shotguns and assault rifles like the M16 also each take her less than 10 minutes. Firearms with more than 50 parts do not cause her any trouble either.

"I have been fond of guns since I was 9 years old and was studying grade 4. I learned it from my father, who repairs and cleans guns for a living," Lisa said. To her, revolvers are the most difficult because of their numerous small parts. The easiest is an M16 because it was designed to be rapidly stripped and reassembled if necessary by soldiers on a battlefield.

Her father Prajak Wasuwat, a war veteran, said he used to run a guesthouse and taught people how to shoot. When he took tourists to the shooting range he had to clean and service his many guns.

So he taught himself, learning and practising dismantling, cleaning and reassembling the firearms himself. Once he became accomplished at this, he made it his living, starting eight years ago.

He travels to police stations in Chiang Mai in his van, loaded with gun-cleaning equipment. His daughter frequently accompanies him and lends a hand, especially during school holidays. They also travel to nearby provinces like Chiang Rai, Lampang, Lamphun, Nan, Phayao and Phrae.

Mr Prajak said he has provided services for other government agencies where shooting practice is part of the job, like highways and narcotics police.

"I just wanted my daughter to know about the dangers of firearms, because I wanted her to be safe. I was afraid that she might reach for a client's gun when she was home. That's why I taught her about guns," Mr Prajak said.

His daughter's strong interest surprised him, and so he started giving her in-depth training in firearms when she was nine. And now she could handle gun cleaning by herself, Mr Prajak said.

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