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Thailand forum

Gun crime in Thailand?

Posted by jp686 on 12/10/2011 at 04:25

Last night I downloaded a free phrase book app featured on this site (I can't remember where it can be found). It had only a small selection of phrases, one of which was "don't shoot!"

Given the small selection of phrases available this would suggest that it is not unlikely that I may have to use this particular phrase during my visit.

Is gun crime a problem in Thailand?

#1 jp686 has been a member since 15/9/2011. Posts: 8

Posted by KirstyB on 12/10/2011 at 12:20

I think the app you're referring to is probably one of the World Nomads ones? They do language apps for several countries and a lot of them seem to include the phrases for "dont shoot" and "those drugs aren't mine" - including the one for Japan which I feel is one of the safest countries I've been to. I'd just assumed it was WN's bit of fun, tongue-in-cheek addition!....

Don't worry; unless you're here during Songkran and it's in reference to a water pistol, you're extremely unlikey to need to use the phrase for "don't shoot" in Thailand and there are much more useful phrases you could spend your time learning.

#2 KirstyB has been a member since 27/7/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 152
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Posted by MADMAC on 12/10/2011 at 13:09

Although I agree with Kirsty's assessment, people who come here should not be fooled by the smiles and friendly appearance. Thai's are friendly, but they are explosively emotional too. Thailand has a rate of gun violence twice that of the US, a country which most Europeans villify for gun violence and access. There have been four gun murders on my street (or just off of it) in the four years I have lived here. Most of these are emotional crimes of passion. Be nice, smile, say your sorry if you do something wrong, and you're good to go. But be confrontational, stand up for your rights in an aggressive manner, etc. and you could find yourself on the wrong end of a guy going beserk.

#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by Nokka on 12/10/2011 at 17:50

Wow, Mac, I would never have thought that was the case, but a bit of googling confirmed that you are absolutely right. Gun crime in the US (per capita) is about 20 times that of the UK, where gun laws are much stricter. Overall murder rates get closer with the US at 3 times higher than UK.

Thailand though appears to have one of the highest rates of gun crime in the world. One statistic suggested 20,000 guncrime murders per annum. That's an extraordinary amount and much higher than in the US - both by per capita and by number.

Crime of this type against tourists is quite low, I assume - but still, its not one stat you see too much of in the tourist hype, is it !

#4 Nokka has been a member since 6/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 259
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Posted by jp686 on 12/10/2011 at 20:58

@ KirstyB:

It was the World Nomad app. At first I assumed it was just a bit of fun but I thought I'd better double check.


It's great to get some input from a local. I'll definitely keep that in mind.

Thanks for all the responses!

#5 jp686 has been a member since 15/9/2011. Posts: 8

Posted by MADMAC on 13/10/2011 at 00:58

It's worth noting that Thailand has pretty strict gun laws and guns are wildly expensive here. But gun violence isn't really related to law, it's related to culture. Laws tend to reflect culture rather than the other way around. In Thailands case, the strict laws (relative to most US states), like many aspects of Thai society, are a reflection of how Thailand wishes to portray itself. Just as prostitution is illegal in Thailand. In the US, there is a cultural acceptance of an individuals right to use deadly force to protect oneself and ones property. This is not an ideal that is embraced in western Europe - neither now nor historically. Furthermore, in European history gun ownership was largely restricted to upper classes, law enforcement and the military. That was a governmental control mechanism. US gun ownership laws reflected exactly this concern starting with the inception of the country. We are slightly off topic now, but it's an observation worth noting, as most people believe the way to modify social behavior is through law, but the reality is that that is a tool which can function only in certain environments and usually requires either gross coercion or popular consent.

#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by wanderingcat on 13/10/2011 at 08:46

agree with #3.
there is gun violence in Thailand, though it hardly affects tourists.
used to settle personal scores, business/political disputes & petty fights between vocational school students, silence key witnesses before they can make it to court, intimidate people before elections, etc. there are hitmen for hire, one particular province was infamous as source (joke was to be on alert when you spot a vehicle from that province parked along your street if you live close to some influential figure). they also feature in some Thai movies.

more on hitmen - another side of Thai 'culture':

that said, tourists usually remain blissfully unaware of gun violence in Thailand, especially when they don't read the Thai tabloids. & now that you know the Thai word for 'shoot', don't get alarmed when you hear Thai guys yelling it - they might just be watching soccer on TV :P

#7 wanderingcat has been a member since 21/10/2006. Posts: 730
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