New law takes aim at fake guns

Bangkok Post - - NATIONAL - POST RE­PORTERS

A for­mer top po­lice­man has warned peo­ple could face harsh penal­ties un­der a new law reg­u­lat­ing firearms and ex­plo­sives, even for us­ing fake weapons to com­mit crimes or cause pub­lic panic.

Sanit Ma­hatha­vorn, for­mer Metropoli­tan Po­lice Bu­reau com­man­der and a mem­ber of the Na­tional Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly (NLA) com­mit­tee which vet­ted the bill, wrote on his Face­book page yes­ter­day the new law which has passed the NLA, will help pre­vent crimes be­ing com­mit­ted by peo­ple who use fake guns and bombs.

The new law is de­signed to es­pe­cially crack down on those who use hoax bombs to cause pub­lic panic as well as bomb threats.

He said those ac­tiv­i­ties were not reg­u­lated un­der the ex­ist­ing law re­sult­ing in the Supreme Court rul­ing, in some cases, that fake guns and ex­plo­sives were not con­sid­ered as “weapons” stip­u­lated in the Crim­i­nal Code.

As a re­sult, peo­ple ex­ploited the le­gal loop­holes by us­ing fake weapons to com­mit var­i­ous crimes and re­ceived le­nient penal­ties or some­times es­caped penal­ties.

Sev­eral of them suc­cess­fully com­mit­ted crimes, in­clud­ing rob­bery and rape, by bran­dish­ing fake weapons, Pol Lt Gen Sanit Ma­hatha­vorn said.

Some groups used hoax ex­plo­sives to stir pub­lic panic, which was po­lit­i­cal mo­ti­vated, he added.

For such ac­tiv­i­ties, po­lice can only charge them with caus­ing a pub­lic scare, a charge which has a light penalty, in some cases just a fine. As a re­sult, such illintended ac­tiv­i­ties hap­pen re­peat­edly, Pol Lt Gen Sanit said.

“These prob­lems have hap­pened for 70 years since the gun law was en­acted in 1947,” he said.

The new law, which passed the NLA vote with 201 in favour, will reg­u­late fake guns and ex­plo­sives.

Once the law is pub­lished in the Royal Gazette, any­one who uses fake guns or ex­plo­sives to com­mit a crime will face harsher penal­ties. A per­son who uses a hoax bomb to stir pub­lic panic could face three years in prison and a 60,000-baht fine, or both.

Those who scare peo­ple by claim­ing to be car­ry­ing firearms or ex­plo­sives can face terms of up to 20 years.

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