Thailand's gun control debate raging a year after nursery shooting


Thailand shouldn’t be occupying so much of my gun politics news feed, but here we are. In the immediate aftermath of the attempted mass shooting there, we shouldn’t be surprised.


Then we have the fact that it was just over a year ago when the country suffered a horrific mass shooting at a nursery that left 34 people dead.

In that time, there were no new gun control laws passed, which many think probably played a factor in what happened earlier this month.

And for many, that’s a problem.

One year ago Friday, a police officer who was recently fired for drug abuse stormed a nursery in northeast Thailand and proceeded to shoot and stab 36 people to death, including 24 children, before fatally shooting himself.

[killer’s name redacted]’s killing spree made for Thailand’s worst mass killing by a lone gunman on record. It set off a wave of calls for tougher firearms laws in a country with the highest rate of gun ownership in the region. Then-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha convened a special meeting of top officials to brainstorm ideas and promised action.

A year later, however, none of the laws and regulations governing who can buy, sell or own a gun in Thailand has changed.

“At this moment, [there has been] no … change in the laws and regulations,” Chavanut Janekarn, a criminologist at Thailand’s Thammasat University and retired 25-year veteran of the police force, told VOA.


Now, they say this like it’s a bad thing. It’s not.

See, the killer here had been a police officer but was being charged with drug trafficking. I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that if he can traffic drugs, he could get firearms regardless of the laws on the books.

Last week’s shooting didn’t even involve something made to shoot bullets. It was a blank firing replica that had been converted to shoot live rounds.

At every point, Thailand’s gun control laws have been thwarted not by their lack but because someone determined to do something bad will always find a way.

Officials claim Thailand’s gun laws make it “too easy” to get a gun, but they require a license that is meant to limit gun ownership to those whom the nation approves of. Since it requires a background check to make sure you’re not a repeat criminal and a psychological evaluation, I don’t see what else Thailand could really do without instituting bans or something of that sort.

And why should you do that when it’s clear that’s not actually where the problem lies?


Like politicians here, officials in Thailand are looking to Do Something so they appear to be taking the issue seriously, but without having to do the work of actually doing something.

I suppose anti-gun politicians are the same no matter what country you find yourself in.

Look, what happened last year was beyond awful and what happened last week is only better because the scale was much smaller.

But restricting guns isn’t the answer. Thailand was right not to issue further restrictions after the nursery attack. What they failed to do is look into why someone did something like that in the first place.

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