Rise in Thai gun ownership raises alarm after Siam Paragon murders

Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash.

The tragic shooting which claimed the lives of two women at the Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok sparked public concern over how a young man could obtain firearms. More startling was the discovery of a trove of guns and ammunition at the young man’s residence, along with videos of him expertly demonstrating gun use. This incident has raised questions about the ease of gun ownership in the country.

The Siam Paragon shooting was an incident no one wished to happen, but it did. Sanook revealed some alarming statistics on civilian gun ownership and highlighted the rate of Thai fatalities due to firearms.

Thailand has the highest number of firearms in ASEAN, according to the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey. The organisation revealed that in 2017, there were over 800 million firearms globally, with the United States leading with 393 million firearms. India and China follow with 71 million and 49.7 million firearms respectively.

Looking at Thailand’s statistics, with a population of 68 million, the country ranks 13th globally and first in Southeast Asia for firearm ownership, with Thai civilians owning up to 10.3 million firearms. Among these, 6.2 million are registered, while over 4 million are unregistered.

This translates to 15 out of every 100,000 Thais owning a firearm, ranking Thailand 48th globally. Apart from leading ASEAN, the Small Arms Survey and the Gun Violence Prevention group indicate that Thailand is a hotbed for black-market firearm transactions.

Thailand is also at risk of mass shootings. Data compiled by the World Population Review shows that in 2022, Thailand had 2,804 firearm-related deaths, or 3.92 per 100,000 population, ranking it 15th among countries with the highest rate of firearm-related deaths.

The Early Warning Project also reveals that Thailand ranks 19th out of 162 countries worldwide for the risk of mass killings between 2021 and last year, a significant rise from 42nd the previous year.

In related news, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin gave gun owners without a permit a 30-day amnesty period to turn in their guns last month. Read HERE to find out more!

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Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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