|As far back as anyone can remember, there has been gun control and compulsory registration of firearms in Thailand. Oddly, there has never been any public discussion regarding the regulations that have been in place from the beginning of time. Simply stated, there is no room for gun debate in a country that swings in and out of military coups as a major part of its political process. Fifty years ago, the author landed in Thailand and wished to purchase a shotgun. Together with a connected Thai associate, we went to a gun shop with reams of documentation and purchased a pump Remington 12-gauge Game Master shotgun which was duly registered with individualized Thai serial numbers as shown below.
Somehow, most people do not bother with pistols as the Thai authorities are far more concerned with long guns. Moreover, there is no sale or registration distinction between shotguns, semi-automatic rifles and fully automatic weapons.
At one point, the author relocated to Japan where all firearms are forbidden. Therefore, another associate was sending a container of personal effects to New York and was asked to include the shotgun in the shipment. When the container arrived in New York, he was summoned to the U.S. Customs office on the docks to explain why the container was empty except for the shotgun standing in the corner with some strange scribbles on it. Apparently, everything else he sent home had been stolen by the longshoreman except the shotgun. It took him some time to sort the legal U.S. Customs questions but eventually they released the gun to him and it eventually found its way to its owner. Who knows what went through the minds of the thieves-take the goods-leave the gun which could have been a harbinger to the famous line in the Godfather movie-"Take the cannoli-leave the gun."
This gun control background will become more relevant as we complete a modern second chapter regarding poaching by a wealthy, influential Thai in a protected park. Recently, Khun Premchai Karnasuta, president of Italian-Thai Development Company, was arrested in a UNESCO World Heritage Park site for killing a protected black panther. Despite widespread concerns that the powerful Premchai would escape any legal consequences, he was charged with several criminal counts and released on bail. You must admit that Premchai, shown below, does not fit the traditional concept of a "jungle Jim."
Khun Wichian Chinnawong, shown below, and several of his park rangers were given special commendations for resisting approaches by the wealthy Thai with cash offers to turn a blind eye to the illegal hunting and killing an endangered black panther which the hunters ate at the campsite.
Further, a search of the home of Premchai and his wife, Wandee, turned up African ivory tusks that had been illegally imported into Thailand.
Khun Wandee was brought into police headquarters to face charges of false registration of imported ivory found in their home. However, it does not appear to be a very brutal interrogation.
In the final analysis, Premchai was indicted on several serious charges including: carrying unregistered firearms without a license, hunting protected wildlife in a wildlife sanctuary and possessing protected wildlife carcasses. It remains to be seen how Khun Wandee's charges will be resolved but sometimes a gentle smile is more effective than an attempted bribe.
There are two morals to this story. First, register any long gun you carry in Thailand and, second, do not steal a registered Thai long gun outside of Thailand as you never know who may come to see you and either reclaim it or make you eat it.