Don’t shoot at eclipse, mayor warns

PHUKET: With a lunar eclipse taking place next Sunday night, the Phuket Town Municipality has issued a warning to gun owners: Don’t mark the occasion by firing weapons at the Moon. Traditional Thai and Chinese belief is that a lunar or solar eclipse is caused by a malevolent giant attempting to eat the moon. It is therefore the responsibility of all good citizens to try to frighten the giant away by making lots of noises – banging cooking pots, lighting fireworks and, more recently, shooting in the air. Though there can be very few people who still believe this – most understand that a lunar eclipse is caused by the earth passing between the Sun and the Moon, casting a shadow across the Moon – the tradition of noise-making persists. Phumisak Hongyok, Mayor of Phuket Town, said, “These days, people like to fire guns in order to celebrate the New Year and other important events, such as lunar and solar eclipses,” he said. “But although people point their guns toward the sky, the bullets eventually come back down, sometimes injuring or even killing innocent people. According to the law, firing guns in public without reasonable cause is illegal.” The penalty for breaking this law is a fine of up to 500 baht, 10 days in jail or both. If a bullet comes back down and injures someone, the penalty includes a fine of up to 6,000 and jail for up to three years or both. If the injured party dies, then the penalty increases to a fine of up to 20,000 baht or 10 years in jail or both. Mayor Phumisak added that anyone found firing his weapon in public without reasonable cause may, in addition to the fine, lose his gun owner’s permit. The potential for disaster during the upcoming eclipse is much greater than usual because the event will last for nearly four hours, making it the longest eclipse since 1859. It will begin at 6.57 pm, reaching its maximum at 8.02 pm, and ending at 10.54 pm.

Phuket News

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