Tougher gun controls on the way

Tougher gun controls on the way

Anutin announces short-term measures including suspension of permit issuance

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announces temporary gun-control measures following a meeting of officials from several agencies at Government House on Thursday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announces temporary gun-control measures following a meeting of officials from several agencies at Government House on Thursday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

The government is suspending the issuance of permits for importing and trading firearms, real and imitation, as one of seven short-term measures to improve gun control, Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced on Thursday.

The measures are a response to public concern following the shooting on Tuesday at a Bangkok shopping mall, where a teenager armed with a blank gun that had been modified killed two people and wounded five others.

The short-term measures were agreed on during a meeting that involved agencies including the Royal Thai Police, Customs Department, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) and Ministry of Public Health at Government House on Thursday.

Mr Anutin, who is also a deputy prime minister, said earlier that all existing gun control laws would be reviewed and amended as necessary to ensure public safety. Only authorised individuals should be permitted to carry guns in public, he added.

Karom Polpornklang, a deputy government spokesman, said long-term measures to be taken would include amendments to the 1947 law on firearms, ammunition, explosives, fireworks and imitation guns to put buying and possession of firearms and ammunition under stricter control.

The seven short-term measures are:

1. All firearms registration officials nationwide are to suspend the issuance of permits for importing and trading of all kinds of imitation firearms as well as real ones. No licences will be issued for new applicants.

2. People who possess blank guns, BB guns or imitation firearms that can be modified to function as real ones are required to present them for recording at firearms registration offices in the area where they live.

3. The Customs Department is to step up checks on the importation of blank guns, BB guns and imitation firearms.

4. The Sports Authority of Thailand will prohibit all shooting ranges of all sports associations from allowing people aged under 20 years old into their premises except with permission from the authority. All guns brought to the ranges must be properly registered. Taking ammunition out of the ranges is prohibited. Guns belonging to members of shooting ranges must be kept inside the facilities, except with proper permission.

5. Provincial governors are to stop issuing permits for individuals to carry guns in public.

6. The Ministry of Interior does not have a policy to run a programme to issue guns for the general public. However, it is necessary for government officials assigned to crime prevention and suppression duties to have one gun each. In the event of their death, the guns will go to their heirs.

7. Firearms registration officials are to stop issuing permits for gun shops to import firearms and ammunition until further notice. For the time being, opening of new gun shops will not be allowed

Mr Anutin also asked the police and the DES Ministry to close down websites selling illegal and imitation guns. They are required to send progress reports to the Interior Ministry every 15 days.

He has also held meetings with the Department of Provincial Administration (DPA), which is responsible for gun licensing nationwide. The purpose was to gather information about current laws related to the possession of firearms by individuals and various types of weapons including blank guns, BB guns and toys that could pose harm after modification.

The minister said his personal view was members of the general public should not have licences to possess or carry guns in public. Only government authorities should be allowed to do so, he added.

“From now on, people should not be allowed to carry guns around at their own will,” he said. “There should be no instances of people venturing out with a firearm to settle conflicts.”

All shooting ranges must be under strict control and minors should not be permitted to practise shooting, he added.

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