Thailand’s crackdown on blank guns following Siam Paragon shooting

Photo: Torange/

The use of “blank guns” in crimes across Thailand has been on a steady rise, with over 1,000 cases recorded last year. The surge was triggered by a shocking incident involving a 14 year old boy who opened fire in Siam Paragon shopping mall, Bangkok resulting in two deaths and multiple injuries.

The weapon of choice by the teenage murderer was a modified blank gun, which is not classified as illegal and can be freely bought and sold.

Anutin Charnvirakul, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, chaired a meeting yesterday at Government House, to discuss measures to control the possession, carrying, and use of firearms, ammunition, gun replicas, and fake guns to ensure public safety.

The meeting, summarised by Karm Plapon, the Deputy Spokesperson of the Prime Minister’s Office, approved several immediate and long-term measures.

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For immediate measures, the Department of Provincial Administration was tasked with the following:
1. District chiefs nationwide and the Director-General of the Department of Provincial Administration in Bangkok are to suspend the issuance of permits for the import and sale of all types of gun replicas. Existing permit holders were warned against further importation, and new applicants were denied permits.
2. Owners of blank guns, BB guns, or gun replicas that can be modified into firearms must report to the firearm registrar in their local area.
3. The Customs Department is to scrutinise the import of gun replicas, especially blank guns and BB guns, which can be easily modified into firearms.
4. The Sports Authority of Thailand, which oversees registered shooting ranges nationwide, must enforce strict controls. Individuals under 20 years old are prohibited from entering shooting ranges, except for national team athletes who have received permission from the Sports Authority of Thailand. All firearms must be correctly registered, and ammunition cannot be taken outside the ranges.

Long term measures

Long-term measures include revisions to the Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks, and Imitation Firearms Act B.E. 2430. The proposed changes are as follows:
1. Applicants for firearm and ammunition permits must provide a medical certificate attesting to their mental health.
2. The definition of “imitation firearm” should not include blank guns, BB guns, or other gun replicas that can be easily modified into firearms.
3. Anyone wishing to purchase a gun replica that can be modified into a firearm must apply to the firearm registrar.
4. All firearm owners, both existing and new, must have their firearms tested and ballistic data of every bullet recorded.
5. The validity of firearm possession licenses (Type 4) should be limited. Holders must report to the registrar every five or ten years for renewal, similar to a driver’s license.

Blank guns or “blank firing guns” are replicas or models of real guns. They mimic the appearance and operation of real guns but cannot fire bullets. They have evolved to closely resemble real firearms, with nearly 100% accuracy in look and function. They are developed from BB guns.

According to the National Police Office’s statistics, the number of cases involving blank guns has been increasing every year: over 200 cases in 2020, about 500 cases in 2021, over 1,000 cases last year, and more than 700 cases in the first ten months of this year. This trend shows that the usage of blank guns in crimes is continuously increasing, reported Sanook.

Blank guns are not illegal, which raises the question, why are they not classified as illegal when they can be modified and used to kill?

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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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