Thailand’s gun-control law: Can shooting in self-defence be justified?

Footage of a gold shop owner in Thailand shooting robbers at close range has sparked a lot of criticism.

The Nation

The Nation



December 12, 2022

BANGKOK – On Thursday afternoon, four masked men on two motorbikes rode up and shot at the window of a gold shop in Tak in a burglary attempt.
The robbery was foiled by the gold shop owner, who shot point-blank at the robbers and severely injured one of them. The injured man and another suspect were arrested, though the other two managed to get away.

Footage of the gold shop owner Pisit (last name withheld) shooting at close range has sparked a lot of criticism.

The 49-year-old is reportedly a shooting enthusiast and has won several trophies.

In a Facebook on Friday, well-known lawyer Kerdpol Kaewkerd said he believes Pisit will get away with little punishment because he can justify the shooting as self-defence.


Is shooting justified?

However, this shooting has sparked a conversation on whether shooting for “self-defence” is acceptable.

Another example of a self-defence shooting was in 2018 when engineer Suthep Poshsomboon shot dead a 17-year-old schoolboy in Chonburi over road rage.

Suthep’s car had been surrounded by a group of angry youths over a right-of-way argument, and when he was hit by one of them, he retaliated by pulling out his gun and shooting.

The court of the first instance and the Appeals Court handed down a 10-year jail term, ruling that Suthep had got into an avoidable conflict by choice.

However, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling and reduced the sentence to three years and four months with parole because the shooting was seen as self-defence.

Right to gun possession

According to Article 8 of Thailand’s 1947 Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks and Imitation of Firearms Act, nobody can own ammunition that does not match the licence granted to the weapon owner.

Violators can face up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of 20,000 baht.

The Act also says: “No person shall carry a firearm into a town, village or public way without a licence to carry firearms except in a case where carrying of firearms is required in case of necessity or emergency as appropriate under the circumstances.”

Violation of this chapter can result in up to five years in prison and/or up to 10,000 baht in fines.

“No person shall openly carry a firearm or carry a firearm in any gathering place provided for worshipping, merrymaking, entertainment or any other purposes.”

Violators of this point who do not have the licence to carry arms in public can face a jail term of six months to five years and/or a fine of 1,000 to 10,000 baht.

Those who have the licence to carry a firearm but bring it into a place of worship, entertainment etc, stand to face up to a year in prison and/or a fine of 2,000 baht.

Weapon used on Thursday

According to information gathered by The Nation, Pisit was using a Benelli M4 tactical shotgun to protect himself and his store.

This semi-automatic shotgun featured large in the Hollywood blockbuster “John Wick: Chapter 2”.

The Benelli M4, released by Italian firearms manufacturer Benelli Armi SpA in 1998, is widely used by the armies of Italy, the US and the United Kingdom.

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