The gun destruction ceremony was presided over by the national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas and his deputy Gen Surachate Hakparn. Both officers are known to personally supervise the most resonant cases.
Speaking at the event, Gen Damrongsak said that the policy to enforce firearm control and prevent illegal gun possession had been proclaimed by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. The Royal Thai Police report of the event did not mention any specific previous cases which might have highlighted the problem and motivated officials to take more actions.
Gen Damrongsak assured that the Royal Thai Police are tackling all aspects of illegal gun possession and trading, including online sales of firearms via social media.
Pictures from the event in Rayong show various guns to be destroyed. The arsenal included pistols, revolvers, hunting rifles, shotguns, homemade guns and military-grade assault rifles. Fully automatic Russian Kalashnikovs (AK) and American M16s/M4s were among the latter.
In 2022 and 2023, several resonant cases resulting from improper gun control made headlines in Thailand and shook the nation and Phuket in particular.
On Aug 6, a Phuket policeman left his 9mm pistol in an unlocked drawer during a family party. This led to the death of a 7-year-old girl shot by her 9-year-old cousin who found the gun and thought it was a toy. Police did not reveal if the incident led to any consequences for the police officer.
On Oct 6, a ex-police officer from Nong Bua Lamphu killed over 30 children at a local kindergarten. The man was known to have problems with methamphetamine and behaviour issues. At the time of the shooting he was under trial for drug possession and already sacked from the ranks. Despite this, his gun had not been seized from him and police never explained why.
On Feb 10, an ex-conscript of the Royal Thai Army wounded two passengers on an interprovincial bus in Phuket and then took his own life. Police confirmed that the shooter had mental issues and had been undergoing treatment. Police did not explain how a diagnosed psychiatric patient could have a gun in his possession.
On Feb 20, Lt Gen Panya Pinsuk, 59, commander of the Royal Thai Police Office, was shot dead by his wife during a family argument in Bangkok. Police did not reveal why the woman had access to her husband’s firearms.
The police report contains the following figures: 13,559 items; plus 7,176 items; 20,735 items in total. It is not clear if the numbers apply to seized guns or to guns and ammunition. At the same time, even a regional week-long campaign in December led to confiscation of 88 firearms. National level figures cannot be smaller than thousands.
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