Farm and country folk the world over all have firearms for many good reasons, and that rightly did not seem to be the issue in the arrest this week. The caretaker, Mr Kumthong, acted affably toward police and held nothing back in telling them exactly what he had and handed the firearm over immediately. In kind, the police still arrested and fined him – but more importantly seized the weapon. (See story here.)
The ongoing drug busts – petty and large - throughout the year, landed a firearm of one type or another on the vast majority of occasions. Most of these were among youths, and many were the “Thai Pradit” variety: a home-made handgun designed to fire a shotgun cartridge. Simple, but just as deadly as the factory version.
The sheer number of these so-called “home-made” guns turning up on Phuket is worrying. At this stage it is difficult to assess just how far a person would be from the nearest firearm at any point on the island.
Of more concern is how freely these firearms are ending up in the hands of youths and drug dealers. This appears to be more for show than actual use, but youths and drug dealers are not renowned for their patient temperament.
On the gun issue, the nation seems to be literally dodging a bullet. These illegally made firearms are becoming increasingly more professional in their creation, and so much more easily ordered online through social platforms such as Facebook.
Thank heavens the nation has yet to catch the seemingly Western-disease of sporadic indiscriminate killings, the likes of mass public shootings. Although Thailand has murders aplenty, a huge percentage are always attributable to direct personal conflict: a failed romantic relationship, a dispute over money, or otherwise.
Praise to the police for chasing down the tip-off that landed the musket this week. That’s one more gun that can’t be used to cause irreparable harm. Phuket in recent years has remained a safe haven from violent gun crime. Let’s keep it that way.