The issuance of permits for individuals to carry firearms in public has been suspended nationwide to ensure people's safety, as instructed by Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, interior permanent secretary Suttipong Juljarern said on Thursday.
Mr Suttipong said an order has been sent to the governors of all 76 provinces and he has coordinated with the national police chief (Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol), who has the authority to issue gun-carrying permits in Bangkok, to suspend the issuance of permits until further notice.
He said Mr Anutin's instruction came after a fatal shooting between rival student gangs in front of Sacred Heart Convent School in Bangkok's Klong Toey district on Nov 11. A female schoolteacher was killed by a stray bullet in the incident.
Mr Suttipong said he has also ordered all provincial governors to take action as follows:
• Local gun registration officials are to suspend the issuance of permits for ordering and importing blank guns or imitations that can be easily modified for use as real guns. No licences will be issued to new importers or traders of blank guns or other imitations. Gun shops will no longer receive permits to order or import guns and ammunition until further notice.
• People who have blank guns or imitations in their possession are required to register them with local officials to show that they do not intend to modify them.
• Permits for buying guns, having guns in possession for use and ordering or importing guns and ammunition will now only be issued to shooting sports associations properly registered under the Sport Authority of Thailand Act.
Mr Suttipong said people with information on wrongful acts concerning guns and imitations or materials which may be harmful to people's lives and property can report to chiefs of villages, tambons and districts in their localities or call the Damrongtham Centre at 1567.
Authorities have stepped up gun control efforts following the shooting in Klong Toey on Nov 11 and the Oct 3 shooting at Siam Paragon shopping mall, where a 14-year-old boy using a modified gun intended to fire blank ammunition fatally shot three people and wounded five others.
- Thailand 13th in gun ownership worldwide -
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.
The authors of the survey estimated that Thai people possessed the most guns in Southeast Asia, with an average of 15 firearms per 100 population.
The United States topped the table with 393.3 million guns, followed by India (71.1 million) and China (49.7 million).
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.
The Philippines was the top country in Asean region with 9,267 gun deaths.