BANGKOK, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Thai Army Commander-in-Chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong said on Wednesday that he will scrap the "welfare gun" program where army officers are able to buy weapons at tax-free prices, typically as low as half the market prices.
"The welfare gun program should be scrapped as there is no need for army officers to have their own guns, because they are provided with service weapons," said Gen. Apirat, "also, from now on, the purchase of the guns by army officers must be more tightly controlled and permission to own a personal gun must be granted by an army general, not a colonel."
The Army commander was referring to the weekend massacre where Jakrapanth Thomma, an army officer-turned-gunman who shot dead 27 people and injured 57 in northeastern Thailand, owned five legally-registered guns, including three pistols, one shotgun and a rifle, which were all bought under the army's "welfare gun" program.
Jakrapanth used one of his three pistols to kill his commander and the latter's mother-in-law during a meeting at her house to settle an unpaid real estate brokerage fee, said Apirat.
The welfare gun program in Thailand is widely practiced by law enforcement agencies and the Thai Army to enable their staff to buy weapons at a very low price so that law enforcement officers can use them for work or practice at their barracks or work place.
"This apparently explains why Jakrapanth could afford to buy five guns," said the Army commander, "well, from now on, the welfare gun program will be scrapped."
Apirat also again extended his sorrow over the high number of deaths in the mass-shooting carnage and reiterated that the Thai Army promises recruit to children of those gunned down and killed by Jakrapanth.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said previously that he had never seen the number of deaths from mass-shooting in such a huge scale like the one over the weekend.