Data from the University of Washington shows that Thailand has one the highest rate of gun-related deaths out of ten countries in Asia, reports Channel News Asia, confirming what many have suspected for some time: the Kingdom may just have a gun problem on its hands.
Now the question begs is this only a gun issue or something more sinister within the culture that shows a distinct attraction towards violence?
Having traveled extensively throughout Thailand on a motorcycle, this has given me a first hand impression on just how bad the situation could be.
Now if you have followed my travels, you would notice that the likes of Pattaya is not somewhere I am overly fond of. There are many reasons behind this, the fact it’s dirty, the underlying violence that is reported everyday in the news and the fact that this is one place that if you want to have a gun stuck in your face it’s likely to happen.
Owning weapons in Thailand is illegal, yet so many people have them. Even going to a local market in a non-discript town you have the opportunity to arm yourself with anything from knuckle dusters, tasers and switch blades.
Is this all indicating that people fear for their safety in Thailand, or that people are just simply thugs?
Deaths from shooting in Thailand clocked in at 7.48 fatalities per 100,000 people in 2013 – a figure 50 percent higher than the Philippines, who were the next country in the ratings, and double the rate seen in the US.
Gun ownership in Thailand is widespread with over six million registered guns found in the Kingdom. In a country with a population of 67 million, that’s an ownership rate of around one in ten.
“Many Thais own a gun but have no idea about the law,” says Wanphiti Wanalert, a former police gun instructor. “They are not even interested in knowing the law. But once you own a gun there is already a chance that you could break the law.
The motivations behind fatal shootings in Thailand are varied and complicated, although many reasons are tied up in the emotional complexities that surrounds ‘loss of face’, or the perception of such.
With all the violence in Thailand reported in the news, you would have to think if your holidays plans to the Kingdom are actually safe. Well from my perspective, it is still a safe country to travel to, but being fully aware of your surrounds, not putting yourself in harms way by venturing into areas that are known for violence and keep your whits about you are all things that will ensure you walk out of the Kingdom alive.