Parliament: Bill tabled to outlaw owning digital plans to 3-D print guns, raise fines for arms-related offences

The Ministry of Home Affairs said in a press release that the threat of terrorism remains high. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Owning digital plans to 3D-print a gun or major gun part will become illegal under a proposed law, which will also significantly raise fines for unlicensed activities involving guns and explosives.

The Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill was introduced by Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 3) to address an evolving security landscape.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a press release that the threat of terrorism remains high, and flagged the risk of lone wolves or extremist groups using weapons to carry out an attack here.

Technological changes also pose new challenges to enforcement, said the ministry, pointing to the emergence of technologies such as 3D-printing and drones, and greater access to information online on manufacturing illegal guns and weapons.

MHA also highlighted the need to more efficiently regulate the growing number of arms licensees in recent years, with a greater number of licenses issued for sports shooting.

The new Bill will make it illegal to possess any digital blueprint for the manufacture of a gun or major part of a gun without authorisation. This is to mitigate the threat posed by illegal manufacturing of guns through 3D-printing, said MHA

It will also raise the maximum fine for unlicensed activities involving guns and explosives from $10,000 now to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for entities.

This will bring it in line with fines for offences involving explosive precursors, due to the comparable degree of harm.

Explosive precursors are chemical substances which can be made into explosives with relative ease.

For offences relating to prohibited weapons, higher fines of up to $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for entities will be imposed, as these are particularly dangerous due to their design or construction.

Examples of such prohibited items include guns of a certain calibre, such as anti-tank guns, which are "highly dangerous and have no day-to-day uses", said MHA.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) does not issue licenses for these as they "typically do not have legitimate uses in Singapore".

The new Bill will also allow the police to appoint qualified individuals as compliance officers to conduct inspections on low-risk arms licensees. This will free up the organisation to focus on higher-risk weapons.

"These compliance officers will be trained and supervised by SPF. The investigation and enforcement of regulatory breaches will continue to be handled by police officers," said MHA.

The police will also get more enforcement powers, such as having the right to enter and inspect premises and all vehicles, aircraft and vessels.

A new class licensing regime will be introduced for certain groups in activities that pose low or moderate risks, such as users of air guns for sports shooting, and they will not have to be individually licensed.

The police will have the authority to issue licences to operate shooting ranges under the new Bill, which will also add dangerous weapons such as throwing stars, knuckle dusters and machetes to the list of regulated weapons.

The Government will have greater flexibility in handling evolving situations as well.

If there is serious and imminent threat to life or property arising from guns and explosives-related activity, the Minister for Home Affairs may issue security orders valid for up to six months, with a one-time extension of up to six months if necessary.

These include directing licensees to temporarily suspend or cease their activities immediately, to which they cannot appeal against.

The new Bill will ensure that penalties for offences across the various Guns, Explosives and Weapons-related frameworks are commensurate with the severity of the crime.

If the Bill is passed, the Arms and Explosives Act, Dangerous Fireworks Act and Explosive Substances will be repealed. Related laws such as the Arms Offences Act and the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act will also be amended.

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