Unlawful guns must be handed in, govt says

Unlawful guns must be handed in, govt says

The government will push for a new amnesty law to allow people to hand in illegal firearms in their possession to the state without facing any legal prosecution.

The move comes after last week's mass shooting at a childcare centre in Nong Bua Lam Phu's Na Klang district, which left 36 people, including 24 children, dead and 10 injured.

The killer took his own life after the killing spree, raising the death toll to 37.

Speaking after chairing a meeting yesterday to discuss urgent measures to address the problems of drug abuse and firearms, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government will step up its enforcement of the law to control firearms and ammunition, particularly the process for issuing licences and their renewals.

Those who apply for licences must meet criteria and pass a mental health test to ensure they are not mentally disturbed. They must also be certified by community leaders or their supervisors from the state agencies they work for, he said.

Gen Prayut said the meeting also discussed the revocation of licences to carry firearms if the owners are proven to have mental problems, or are involved in drug abuse.

Tough measures will also be taken to crack down on the online sale of illegal firearms and various laws and ministerial regulations will be reviewed to keep up with the current situation, Gen Prayut said, adding that a working panel has been appointed to study details regarding the control of firearms.

The government has also ramped up measures to control the import of precursor chemicals used to produce narcotics, the prime minister said, adding that state officials involved in drug trafficking will also face severe legal action.

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said a law must be passed by parliament to allow people who possess illegal firearms to hand them in to authorities.

"There are numerous illegal firearms. We will miss the target [of controlling illegal firearms] if we are strict only with those who have firearms licences.

"Those who possess illegal firearms and hand them to authorities will not face criminal prosecution.

"But if they don't hand them in, they will face serious legal action," Gen Anupong said.

Under the new criteria, people who apply for firearms licences will have their mental health certified by doctors.

If they serve as state officials, their superiors must vouch for them, Gen Anupong said.

He said the meeting also agreed that firearms licences may be reviewed every three or five years while police or soldiers who retire or are relieved of their duties and no longer need their firearms may have their licences revoked.

As an example, some may only be allowed to possess a firearm to protect themselves at home.

If they carry a firearm in public, their licence may be revoked or if they carry a gun and drink alcohol, their licences would be revoked too, Gen Anupong said.

Asked how the government will deal with police and military personnel using their firearms to commit offences, Gen Anupong insisted that most crimes were committed by those possessing illegal firearms, not people in uniform.

"From now on, those who apply for licences must be recommended by their superiors.

"Don't blame state officials for every offence committed," Gen Anupong said.



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