New law takes aim at fake guns
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.