Thailand’s firearm frenzy: Tops ASEAN in guns, 13th in global tragedy

Photo by Tom Def via Unsplash

Thailand has the most firearms in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and lies 13th in the world for the most firearm deaths according to Switzerland’s Small Arms Survey (SAS).

Following yesterday’s shooting at the Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, questions have been raised about the ease with which Thais can access and own guns. Locals say that Thai laws on the possession and sale of firearms are not strict enough as a 14 year old boy easily managed to obtain a gun.

In Thailand, people found in possession of a firearm without a permit can face a fine of up to 20,000 baht and a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The process of obtaining a gun permit entails several stages and training.

According to a report by Channel 3, despite the stringent laws regarding illegal firearm possession in Thailand, the issue remains unresolved. Media outlets disclosed findings from a SAS survey on gun ownership in Thailand, revealing that Thai citizens own over 10 million firearms, with only six million of them being legally registered. This places Thailand 13th in the world for gun ownership.

While Thailand’s firearm ownership numbers are significantly lower than countries like the United States, it ranks at the top of the ASEAN region, contributing to the proliferation of the black market for illegal weapons.

Other surveys underscore the urgency of addressing this matter.

In 2019, the Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation at the University of Washington in the US reported that Thailand had the second-highest number of firearm homicides globally.

The World Population Review website also identified Thailand as the 15th highest country for firearm-related deaths, with 2,804 fatalities in that year.

The top countries on this list included Brazil (over 49,000 cases), the US (37,000 cases), Mexico (22,118 cases), India (14,712 cases), and Colombia (133,171 cases).

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Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at