Thailand Vows to Tighten Gun and Drug Laws Following Mass Shooting

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Thai police were dispatched the shooting scene at a day care in Nong Bua Lamphu Province.

The government of Thailand has promised to put stringent measures in place after a former police officer who was suspended for using illicit drugs, barged into a daycare center killing 38 people, including 24 children in Thailand’s northeastern province of Nong Bua Lamphu last week.

Bangkok Post reports that the government will advocate for a new amnesty law that will allow people to hand over illegal firearms in their possession to the state without legal prosecution.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said during a meeting on Wednesday that the government will step up law enforcement measures to control firearms and ammunition access, particularly the process of issuing licenses and their renewals. He has also ordered authorities to double down on drug searches and conduct regular drug tests among police officers and communities and make help and rehabilitation easily available to those who could benefit from it.

According to the new law, those who apply for gun licenses must meet the criteria and pass a test to ensure they are mentally stable. They should also possess certification from the state agencies to be eligible to apply for the license. Regular mental health checks will be made on existing gun license holders as well. Additionally, all gun license holders would need to have their licenses reviewed every three to five years to have them renewed.

The meeting deliberated on revoking the licenses of those who might have had a criminal history involving drug abuse or have mental health problems. Thai authorities also plan to recall firearms from officials and police personnel who have mishandled weapons or acted violently while on the job.

The government has now appointed a committee to keep an eye out for the illegal sale of firearms online and to work on a study regarding the control of firearms. It has also tightened its control on the import of chemicals that could be potentially used to manufacture narcotics, warning state officials involved with drug trafficking of severe legal action.

According to the Small Arms Survey, Thailand has the highest number of privately owned firearms among the ten ASEAN member states, with 10,342,000 firearms documented in 2017.