Bangkok Post --- News & Archive

Guns In Thailand:

As some of you may know, the last few months have seen an upsurge in religious violence in Southern Thailand. It will not surprise you to discover that the leaders of this violence are Muslims decrying the impossibility of living under a non-Muslim state. The favored victims of these heroes of jihad, it will be equally unsurprising to learn, are teachers, elderly Buddhists (one of whom was beheaded recently), and the unarmed. Just for safety's sake, however, the assailants seem to prefer to speed by on motorcycles as they spray bullets or swing machetes at these teachers and old folks.

The Thai government has tried a number of things to placate them. They have promised a major economic initiative to enrich the south and improve standards of living. They tried to print a booklet of Koranic verses that spoke to peace and the need to obey lawful authority, but the Muslim leadership in Thailand threw a fit. Excerpting the Koran--which is said to be the actual word of God, merely recited by Mohammed--is almost as bad as translating it. In either case, you are taking the perfect word of God and altering it. The clerics argued that even printing excerpts of the Koran counted as "interpreting" Islam, and that the government (largely Buddhist) had no business doing it.

So they did not. Instead, they printed a pamphlet challenging a book that the Islamist leaders had written. They also asked southern Thai Muslim clerics to rule on whether or not the book urging jihad was proper. The clerics ruled that, while the book was not proper, the government's response was worse; and so they ordered the government's pamphlets destroyed.

The Thai government took even this in a stride, and is now working to have the clerics write a response of their own. In the meanwhile, the murders go on.

Teachers in Thailand, underwhelmed by their government's efforts on their behalf, are doing what all wise men do. They are arming themselves. This has caused some alarm among the journalistic elite of Thailand, which has begun printing editorials opposed to the notion. These trot out every old canard against the private possession of arms.

'A pistol is no use against a drive-by shooting.' (Well, but what about the fellows with machetes? And what if they miss? You could always return the fire.)

'Teachers are untrained in the use of arms, and so would be easy prey for militants who just wanted more arms.' (Not so easy prey as they are now. I expect we'll see shortly which the militants prefer--unarmed victims, or the chance of winning a pistol at the risk of their neck.)

"It is the task of the state to ensure ordinary people's safety. It should not be left to the individual to arm and defend himself." (Exactly wrong. The free citizen has both the right and the duty to protect the common peace. Indeed, it cannot be otherwise protected.)

'Pistols are an expensive luxury for Thai teachers, who must live on 10,000 baht a month.'

OK. That last one makes sense. Fortunately, help is on the way:

Gun shops in Bangkok are offering discounts to teachers in Thailand's troubled Muslim south where a spate of almost daily attacks show no signs of abating despite government promises to restore peace.

Schools have been common targets for arson and gun attacks, leading to teachers being given permission to apply for licences for firearms for self-defence.

Several Bangkok gunsmiths have appointed teachers as salespeople to lure potential customers to the capital with promises of discounts, said Pairat Vihakarat, who heads a teachers union with 20,000 members in five southern provinces. "A colleague of mine told me he would rather carry a gun than have 20 friends go about with him. Everyone can equally be killed here," Pairat said.

Hundreds of teachers and civil servants from the southern provinces have been lured by discount offers from gun shops in the capital.

Maybe we should start a "Guns for Thai Teachers" fund. The way to beat Islamist terrorism is through the resolute individual. Those who will not be bowed, who will not be terrorized, are the hope of civilization and the very road to Victory.

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