Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
Generally, the unlawful carrying of weapons is an offence punishable with jail and caning. Sometimes, a fine is incurred. This is however subject to certain conditions, all of which will be detailed below.
This article will also discuss certain provisions under the Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill which will come into operation at a later date. It will cover:
What is the Law on Carrying Weapons in Singapore?
Carrying a weapon is an offence in Singapore, unless you can show a lawful purpose for carrying that weapon, or have the required licence for carrying a particular type of weapon. Examples of lawful purposes may include using the weapon:
- At work;
- For religious reasons;
- For use in a theatrical production or film-making for entertainment;
- For an ornamental display;
- For the slaughter or hunting of wild animals authorised under written law; and
- For use in gardening, or in animal husbandry or primary production.
What are Considered Weapons in Singapore?
Both the Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill and the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act state types of items that are considered weapons. They include:
- Arrows, crossbows, and bows;
- Swords, including butterfly swords, machetes, parangs, bolo, kukri or hooked swords
- Knives such as diving knives, hunting knives, kris, karambit, kirpans, dirks, butterfly knives, “balisong”, gravity knives, flick knives, switchblades, and wasp knives;
- Throwing stars and shurikens;
- Knuckledusters, including weighted or studded gloves;
- Spears and spearheads;
- Scythes, including Kama; and
Next, an “offensive weapon” is defined in the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act as any item that is likely to cause hurt. These are items that do not fall within the above categories, but are still capable of causing hurt.
Lastly, there is a subset of offensive weapons known as “scheduled weapons”, which refer to offensive weapons stated in the Second Schedule of the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act. Examples of scheduled weapons include flick knives, gravity knives, knuckledusters and swords.
Once the Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill takes effect, the Bill will refer to “prohibited weapons” and “offensive weapons” as “weapons” in its provisions.
What are the weapons requiring a licence in Singapore?
The following items are controlled by the police and a licence is required for possession:
- Air guns;
- Airsoft guns and paintball markers;
- Musket guns;
- Spear guns;
- Taser and stun guns (electroshock weapons);
- Spears and spear heads;
- Daggers; and
- Pepper sprays.
For more information and illustrations, Singapore Police Force’s Police Licensing & Regulatory Department has a more comprehensive list of prohibited and controlled weapons.
Can I Carry or Possess Weapons for the Purpose of Self-Defence?
However, you are not allowed to use greater force than necessary to defend yourself. Thus, the use of a weapon to defend yourself, whether the weapon is an imitation one or real, might be considered excessive if the attacker was not using a weapon against you.
Even if you do not use the weapon, possessing a weapon for self-defence (e.g., simply carrying it in your bag) will still be a criminal offence. A 32-year-old man admitted to carrying a 20cm butter knife for self-protection when he went to the home of an acquaintance. He was jailed 3 months for the possession of an offensive weapon.
Can I Carry Imitation, Replica or 3D-Printed Versions of Weapons?
Imitation or replica weapons such as imitation guns will be excluded from the Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill. This is because they are deemed to be unlikely to be effective to cause injuries or death. Therefore, you can still possess your Nerf guns.
However, if a Nerf gun or any replica gun was used to commit or abet certain offences, you may be penalised for exhibiting an imitation arm, along with an offence for the main criminal act.
On the other hand, ornamental weapons, which currently are exempted from the licensing requirement, will need a class licence under the Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill in the future, as they have the potential to cause harm. Such ornamental weapons include ornamental swords and daggers.
Under the class licence scheme, there will be certain criteria and conditions relating to possession of the licensed weapon to adhere to. If you do so, you will then be automatically treated as licensed and will not need to apply for an individual licence to possess such weapons.
The Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill also renders unlicensed possession of 3D digital blueprints for a gun or major gun parts an offence, punishable either by a fine of up to $10,000 or a jail term of up to 1 year, or both.
What Happens If You’re Caught in Possession of an Offensive Weapon?
If a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you are in possession of an offensive weapon (i.e. any item that is likely to cause hurt), he may stop and search you or your vehicle without a warrant for it.
If he finds the weapon, and you have no lawful purpose for possessing it, you may be charged with an offence punishable by up to 3 years’ jail and at least 6 strokes of the cane. The weapon may also be disposed of.
What happens If You’re Caught in Possession of a Scheduled Weapon?
If the weapon found on you was a scheduled weapon, you may be found guilty of an offence for carrying a scheduled weapon if you cannot prove that you were carrying it for a lawful purpose. This applies regardless of whether you possess a required licence for the weapon.
For example, a man was charged for wielding a drawn samurai sword on the train. Although he was a sword-fighting teacher, he wielded his sword outside his dojo and outside of lesson hours. Such an offence is punishable by jail of up to 5 years and at least 6 strokes of the cane for a first-time offence.
What Happens If You’re Caught in Possession of a Gun?
Additionally, once the Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill comes into effect, if the weapon found on you was a gun, you can be liable to a fine up to $10,000 for each fully assembled gun, and jail for a term up to 5 years.
Currently, unlawful possession of a gun is an offence punishable with a jail term between 5 to 10 years, and with at least 6 strokes of the cane.
If you were to come into possession of a gun, major part of a gun, gun accessory or weapon either by way of inheritance or by excavation, you should promptly surrender it to the police. Should you fail to do so, you can be liable to a fine of up to $10,000, jail for a term of up to 6 months or to both for a first-time offence once the Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill comes into effect.
If you are licensed to possess a gun, major part of a gun, gun accessory or weapon, you need to keep them safely and securely. You must also ensure that these items are not lost or stolen, or that anyone who is not licensed to possess these items does not come into possession of your item.
Should this happen, or if the item is lost, stolen or destroyed, you must inform the authorities immediately. Failure to reasonably secure the items, ensure that they are not lost or stolen, or to promptly inform the authorities will lead to a fine of up to $10,000, jail for a term of up to 12 months or to both.
What are the Offences and Penalties Related to Weapons in Singapore?
The Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act regulates the handling of offensive and licensed weapons. The following table provides a list of offences and penalties under this Act:
|Unlawful and malicious use or attempt to use any offensive weapon to cause hurt.||Life imprisonment and at least 6 strokes of the cane.|
|Carrying offensive weapons in public.||Up to 3 years’ jail and at least 6 strokes of the cane.|
|Being in the company of, or consorting with, someone who is carrying offensive weapons such as knives in public, which presumes that you knew that the other person carried the weapon.||Same punishment as the person who had been carrying the weapons.|
|Carrying, manufacturing, selling or lending of a scheduled weapon.||For first-time offenders: up to 5 years’ jail and at least 6 strokes of the cane.
For repeat offenders: Between 2 to 8 years’ jail and at least 6 strokes of the cane.
The Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill, when in force, will also regulate the handling of guns, explosives and weapons. The following table provides a list of offences and penalties under this Bill:
|Unauthorised possession, storage, manufacture, import or export, supply or conveyance, or acquisition of a gun, a major part of a gun or a gun accessory.
A major part of a gun is a part that is essential to the operation of a gun, such as the barrel or the trigger mechanism and which can be assembled to create a functioning gun.
A gun accessory is an object designed to be fitted to or attached to a gun for various purposes, such as to conceal its fire like a silencer or flash suppressor, and cannot work except in connection with an operative and functioning gun.
|If the gun was a prohibited gun, up to 5 years’ jail and a fine of up to $10,000 for each fully assembled prohibited gun involved or $100,000 in total, whichever is lower.
A prohibited gun is a gun that is particularly dangerous or may be more readily concealed and would be particularly suited to unlawful use. This includes certain types of automatic guns commonly used by terrorists. No licence will be granted for a prohibited gun.
If the gun was not a prohibited gun, up to 3 years’ jail and a fine of up to $5,000 for each fully assembled gun involved or $50,000 in total, whichever is lower.
If a major part of a prohibited gun was involved, up to 5 years’ jail and a fine of up to $100,000.
If a major part of a gun other than a prohibited gun was involved, up to 3 years’ jail and a fine of up to $50,000.
If a prohibited gun accessory was involved, up to 3 years’ jail and a fine of up to $40,000.
If any other gun accessory was involved, up to 2 years’ jail and a fine of up to $20,000.
|Unauthorised possession of digital blueprints for manufacture of a gun or a major part of a gun on a 3D printer or on an electronic milling machine.||For first-time offenders: a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 1 year’s jail or both.
For repeat offenders:, a fine of up to $25,000 or up to 18 months’ jail or both.
|Breach of gun licence conditions.||For first-time offenders: If any gun or major part of a gun was involved, a fine of up to $10,000, up to 12 months’ jail or both.
If any gun accessory was involved, a fine of up to $5,000, up to 6 months’ jail or both.
For repeat offenders: If any gun or major part of a gun was involved, a fine of up to $25,000, up to 18 months’ jail or both.
If any gun accessory was involved, a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 12 months’ jail or both.
|Unauthorised possession, manufacture, import or export, supply or conveyance, or acquisition of a weapon.||If a prohibited weapon was involved, up to 3 years’ jail and up to $40,000 fine.
If a weapon other than a prohibited weapon was involved, up to 2 years’ jail and up to $20,000 fine.
|Breach of either the conditions under the individual’s licence, or conditions under the class licence for a prescribed weapon.||For first-time offenders: a fine of up to $5,000, up to 6 months’ jail or both.
For repeat offenders: up to $10,000 fine, up to 12 months’ jail or both.
|Failure to surrender the gun, major part of a gun, gun accessory or weapon to the police after coming into possession of it such as inheriting it or discovering it by excavation.||For first-time offenders: up to $10,000 fine,up to 6 months’ jail or both.
For repeat offenders: up to $20,000 fine, up to 12 months’ jail or both.
|Failure to take reasonable steps to ensure that the gun, major part of a gun, gun accessory or weapon is kept or stored securely.||Up to $10,000 fine, up to 12 months’ jail or both.|
|Failure to promptly inform the authorities about the loss, theft or destruction of the gun, major part of a gun or gun accessory or weapon.|
The Arms Offences Act regulates the unlawful possession, the carrying and the usage of arms. An “arm” under the Arms Offences Act generally refers to any type of gun or pistol that can discharge either shots, bullets or any type of missiles. Bombs and grenades are also included in this definition. An imitation arm refers to anything that bears a resemblance to a genuine arm.
The following table provides a list of offences and penalties under the Arms Offences Act:
|Unlawful possession of any arm or ammunition.||5 to 10 years’ jail and at least 6 strokes of the cane.
If there was a previous conviction for a scheduled offence (explained below), 5 to 20 years’ jail and at least 6 strokes of the cane.
|Unlawful carrying of an arm.||5 to 14 years’ jail and at least 6 strokes of the cane.
If there was a previous conviction for a scheduled offence, 5 to 20 years’ jail and at least 6 strokes of the cane.
|Possession of any arm on the body at the time of arrest for a scheduled offence.||Life imprisonment and at least 6 strokes of the cane.|
|Use of or attempt to use any arm.||Death penalty, subject to the general exceptions set out in the Penal Code. However, even if only slight harm had been caused, that will not excuse you from the offence.Additionally, even if you had been present as an accomplice and the arm had not been used by you, you will still be liable for the offence. This is unless you prove that you had taken all reasonable steps to prevent the use of the arm.|
|Use of or attempt to use any arm to commit or attempt to commit any scheduled offence.|
|Arms trafficking.||Death penalty, or life imprisonment and at least 6 strokes of the cane.|
|Being in the company of someone who is unlawfully carrying or is in unlawful possession of any arm.||Same punishment as the person carrying the arm.|
|Using an imitation arm, in a manner to put any person in fear of death or hurt, to commit or attempt to commit or abet a scheduled offence.||Up to 10 years’ jail and at least 3 strokes of the cane.|
Examples of scheduled offences under the Arms Offences Act include:
- Participation in an unlawful assembly
- Commission of murder or culpable homicide
- Causing hurt (including grievous hurt)
- Wrongfully confining another person
- Criminal intimidation
- Abduction or kidnapping
- Preventing or resisting arrest
As seen from this article, Singapore’s weapon control laws are tight, and the punishments for unlawfully possessing a weapon are severe. If you have been charged with a weapons-related offence, you should engage a criminal lawyer to seek legal advice on your case and representation in court if necessary.
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