High-profile shootings are typically considered an American phenomenon. The exception, of course, is political assassination, such as what we saw in Japan last year. Those can happen anywhere and we accept that easily enough.
But a shooting in Thailand isn’t an assassination that made headlines. The incident itself is what I’d call an attempted mass shooting. After all, only two people were killed, but as five others were injured, it was clear that this wasn’t some targeted attack. The Gun Violence Archive would call it a mass shooting, though, but I won’t.
Still, it has all the hallmarks of the kind of thing we’re often told is “uniquely American.”
The prime minister of Thailand’s approach, however, also looks awfully similar to what we see here.
Thailand’s prime minister on Wednesday vowed “preventive measures” after a shooting at a Bangkok shopping mall left two people dead and raised fresh questions about the kingdom’s gun control.
Shoppers returned in dribs and drabs as the Siam Paragon mall reopened less than 24 hours after the shooting — Thailand’s third high-profile deadly gun attack in four years.
The shooting at one of Bangkok’s biggest, most upmarket malls will come as a fresh blow to Thailand’s efforts to rebuild its vital tourism industry after the pandemic.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin joined a minute’s silence at the mall before offering the government’s condolences to the families of the two female victims — one Chinese and one from Myanmar.
“I am confident Siam Paragon and government officials did their best to minimise the casualties and damage,” he said.
“Let this be the only time this happens. My government insists we will give priority to preventive measures,” he added, without giving details.
Now, let’s understand that Thailand has pretty strict gun control laws. Those didn’t stop the shooting at a Thai daycare center last year, for example, and it didn’t stop this one.
Granted, that shooting was carried out by a former police officer. A previous one was carried out by a soldier in 2020. Both of those had legal access to firearms at some point or another.
This one, however, was perpetrated by someone who had no such access. Instead, he found a way around them.
Samran Nuanma, Assistant National Police Chief, told a news conference on Wednesday that the weapon used in the attack was a blank-firing pistol.
“But the barrel was modified for live shooting,” Samran said.
“We will increase regulations and laws to control the use of firearms.”
But past promises of tightening gun laws have not prevented tragedies.
I’m curious just how much curtailment is even possible at this point.
This wasn’t a gun built to be fired. It was meant to shoot blanks. It was modified to fire live rounds and then used by a kid to try and commit a mass shooting.
I’m not sure Thailand can prevent future tragedies by restricting guns even more than they already do.
While mass shootings and attempted mass shootings are rarer in Thailand than they are here in the US, even if you use a real definition versus the GVA’s, they also typically are more deadly. This one could have been more deadly than it was, only good fortune prevented it from being so.
And this was with a modified blank-firing gun.
It seems clear that guns aren’t the problem. The issue is the people who want to slaughter the innocent.