Thailand’s Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has signed an order to suspend the issuance of new gun licenses for a year, in an attempt to curb the rising gun violence in the country.
The order, known as Por 12, will take effect a day after it is announced in the Royal Gazette, the official journal of the government. It will not apply to state officials, such as police officers, who are authorized to carry firearms.
The move comes after a series of fatal shootings in Bangkok that shocked the public and raised questions about the lax gun control laws in Thailand. According to the GunPolicy.org website, Thailand has an estimated 10 million registered and unregistered firearms in civilian hands, making it the country with the highest rate of gun ownership in Southeast Asia.
On Oct 3, a 14-year-old boy opened fire at a crowded shopping mall, killing two people and injuring five others. On Nov 11, a teacher was killed by a stray bullet during a clash between rival student gangs. Two days later, another student was shot dead in a similar incident.
The Interior Ministry said that the suspension of new gun licenses is part of a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence and enforce the existing laws. The ministry also instructed the provincial governors to stop issuing new licenses for importing and selling imitation firearms, which can be modified into real ones. Moreover, the owners of such firearms are required to register them at their local offices.
The ministry also urged the public to cooperate with the authorities and report any illegal possession or use of firearms. It said that anyone who violates the gun laws will face severe penalties, including imprisonment and fines.