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Parliament enacts new law to keep 3D-printed guns off the streets, better regulate weapons

SINGAPORE — The ease of downloading a blueprint to create a gun, and how to ensure that such guns do not end up on the streets, were the main points of a parliamentary debate over a new law to better regulate weapons here.

A 3D-printed gun, called the "Liberator", is seen in a factory in Austin, Texas in the United States.

A 3D-printed gun, called the "Liberator", is seen in a factory in Austin, Texas in the United States.

  • The Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Act was passed to better regulate weapons here
  • It is now illegal to possess digital blueprints of guns without authorisation
  • Members of Parliament who debated the Bill wanted to know how the Act would be enforced and if it might stifle creativity of foam-gun hobbyists
  • Digital blueprints of imitation guns will not require a licence for possession, Mr Desmond Tan said


SINGAPORE — The ease of downloading a blueprint to create a gun, and how to ensure that such guns do not end up on the streets, were the main points of a parliamentary debate over a new law to better regulate weapons here.

The Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Act, which was passed by Parliament on Tuesday (Jan 5), imposes heavier penalties for gun and explosive offences, and tightens control on access to weapons such as guns.

It replaces the Arms and Explosives Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Dangerous Fireworks Act. It also makes amendments to other legislation related to guns, explosives and weapons.

A total of 11 Members of Parliament (MPs) spoke in support of the Bill, which was first read in Parliament last November.

TODAY looks at the key amendments of the Bill, the concerns raised by MPs during the debate and the responses of Mr Desmond Tan, the Minister of State for Home Affairs.


The latest changs to the law introduce stiffer maximum fines for arms and explosives offences, which will now be S$100,000 for entities and S$50,000 for individuals, up from S$10,000 for both previously.

This matches the maximum fines for unlicensed activities involving explosive precursors, or chemicals that can be easily turned into explosives such as ammonium nitrate or hydrogen peroxide.

Given that people can easily learn how to make guns from online sources, and create such guns using a 3D printer, the law also makes it illegal to possess digital blueprints of guns without authorisation.

Another amendment in the Act allows the police to delegate compliance checks on low-risk items, such as air guns, to qualified third-parties instead. This will allow the police to focus on conducting compliance checks on high-risk items.

In addition, those engaged in certain low- or moderate-risk types of activities involving guns, explosives and weapons will no longer have to apply for an individual licence and be put through security clearance. Such people include members of a school air-gun club.

Instead, there is now a new provision for class licensing, which means that a person who meets a certain criteria will automatically be treated as licensed and be allowed to carry out activity related to guns, explosives and weapons, subject to conditions. The criteria will be spelt out in subsidiary legislation.


MPs who debated the Bill were supportive of it and highlighted how the ease of replicating a gun with 3D printing could pose security threats for Singapore, despite the country’s already strict gun control laws.

Mr Sharael Taha, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC), pointed out that those with an internet broadband connection can now print their own gun in the comfort and privacy of their homes.

Such easy access to technology could create opportunities for lone-wolf terrorist attacks, he said.

Mr Sharael suggested that people or companies found to be supplying printed weapons should be charged alongside individuals who use such weapons. This would deter irresponsible 3D printing, he said.

Other MPs wanted to know how the new laws would be enforced.

Mr Melvin Yong of Radin Mas constituency asked how those who downloaded gun blueprints from the internet would be caught, while Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) asked how the authorities would be able to spot weapons that can be brought into Singapore in smaller pieces before being assembled here.

At the same time, other MPs such as Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC) were concerned that the latest legislation could “stifle” creativity in the community, including foam-gun hobbyists who use 3D printing to design their own gun components for play.

Mr Yong and Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) also wanted to know if third-party compliance officers will require training and the scope of their powers.


Agreeing with Mr Sharael that lone-wolf terrorists could use 3D-printed guns to cause harm, Mr Tan said that the community and family members could point out such persons to the authorities.

The police will adopt a “practical and reasonable manner” in enforcing the laws, Mr Tan said. They will also rely on information from the public to identify those who possess gun blueprints.

Addressing Ms Yeo’s concern that the new laws could stifle creativity, Mr Tan reiterated that the threat posed by 3D-printed guns and their parts is real, but added that licensing the possession of gun blueprints will allow the authorities to ensure that the proper security and practices are in place.

Imitation guns that are clearly meant for recreation do not fit the description of a gun under the Bill and there is therefore no need for a license to possess such a gun blueprint or 3D print.

On third-party compliance officers, Mr Tan said that they will be required to be trained and assessed by the police licensing officer, and only those qualified will be able to conduct site inspections.

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