Friendly Thailand stares down the barrel of rising gun crime – Reuters, October 21, 2012
…A tourist haven and regional base for multinational companies, Thailand has the highest number of guns in civilian hands in Southeast Asia — almost four times more than the Philippines, a country notorious for violent gun crime.
Some blame the rise in gun crime on political instability that has gripped Thailand since a 2006 coup that removed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Unrest culminated in a two-month stand-off in 2010 between government troops and “red shirt” protesters backing Thaksin and clashes that killed 91 people.
Others say that the seeming impunity enjoyed by the wealthy has prompted some to take the law into their own hands.
“Thailand has become a Wild West movie,” says politician Chuwit Kamolvisit, a former massage-parlor tycoon who says he used to pay off local police to run his seedy businesses. “People pull out their guns at a moment’s notice…”