Police have seized more than 2,000 illegal guns and 75,000 bullets and arrested 1,593 suspects in a three-day nationwide crackdown following a deadly shooting at a Bangkok shopping mall.
Teams of police raided 3,224 locations across the country between Oct 9 and 11, national police chief Torsak Sukvimol said on Thursday.
A total of 1,593 suspects were arrested during the three-day operation. Officers seized 1,789 illegal guns, including blank guns and BB guns, along with 219 registered guns that were changing hands, and 75,973 rounds of bullets.
Pol Gen Torsak said the crackdown operation was a response to the Oct 3 shooting spree at Siam Paragon shopping mall, where a teenage gunman killed two people and injured five others.
Police said the 14-year-old shooter, who is now undergoing psychiatric evaluation, had purchased his modified blank gun online.
National police chief Torsak Sukvimol inspects a seized rifle during a media briefing on Thursday. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
The deadly shootings prompted Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to order a crackdown on all types of illegal guns, said Pol Gen Torsak.
Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul subsequently suspended the issuance of permits for importing and trading firearms, as one of seven short-term measures to tighten gun control. In the longer term, authorities are looking at amending the country’s 76-year-old firearms law to close loopholes.
As well, the police Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) is working with other agencies to get tough on social media websites that illegally sell guns online.
A total of 79 Facebook pages, 14 TikTok accounts, 148 X (Twitter) accounts, 26 YouTube channels and 14 Instagram accounts have been shut down so far, according to Pol Gen Torsak.
Illegal possession of a firearm carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to 20,000 baht, but gun ownership is high in Thailand compared with other countries in Southeast Asia.
Around 10.3 million guns — only 6.2 million of them registered — were possessed by Thais, putting the country in 13th place globally for small gun possession, according to the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey in 2017.
Data from the World Population Review in 2022 indicated Thailand was ranked 15th globally in gun deaths with 2,804 people killed, for a rate of 3.91 people per 100,000 population.
Illegal guns of various types are displayed along with ammunition at police headquarters. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)