Speech by Mr. Derrick Goh, MP for Nee Soon GRC, at the Second Reading of the Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Bill (Bill No. 44/2020)
Mr Speaker Sir, The Guns, Explosives and Weapons or GEW (Control) Bill is a good step forward. This effectively harmonizes and updates the laws against new trends and threats and will strengthen the existing enforcement framework which will in turn minimise risks posed by GEW going forward.
Having had the experience of being a former National Service Police Commander, I can see that this Bill has taken a holistic approach. Not only has it appropriately increased the deterrence for offences with the intent to cause harm, it has also included proactive features in two key areas, namely:
1. Upstream preventive measures; and
2. The use of class licensing regime.
These steps allow for better risk management without increased regulatory burden, of which I have a request and one clarification from the Minister.
Relating to the first point, a few years back, I previously practised at the National Shooting Centre at Choa Chu Kang under the oversight of a coach.
At that time, I noticed that the procedures of the range were not as tight as now. It did cross my mind then that a range user could leave the range with arms and live ammunition – in this scenario, the severity would be high, and the probability is low, although not zero.
This Bill will now address this gap and requires, for example, the National Shooting Centre which is now not a licensable activity to operate more securely under license. This will in turn require:
– Tighter control of ammunition storage and issuance for example;
– Armed security at the range’s control points;
– Better security measures in place to prevent firearms and ammunition from leaving the shooting range.
This measure is more reassuring for all range users as well as the public. However, in view of the tightened level of security and licensing requirements, I hope that the Ministry will keep the inconvenience to impacted stakeholders to a reasonable level in terms of, for example, wait time for license registration and approvals, lead time for range and arms booking as well as keeping the associated costs manageable.
On the second point, the Bill’s calibration is evident by the inclusion of the new class licencing regime. This class of licensing will facilitate the development of Shooting sports which is an area where Singapore has done well with world class athletes. Examples include in the international arena such as the SEA, ASEAN Games and at the International Shooting Sports Federation World Cup. I am heartened that the Minister has highlighted that this Bill will mean that student members of a school’s Air Gun Club would not be required to apply for individual licenses, as this has always been a good source for scouting of young talents. In this way, class licensing will facilitate the legitimate users and stakeholders. However, as we noted that the risk of using GEW is low but not zero, I hope that the Minister can give us the continued assurance that the Class Licensing scheme will not apply to the higher risk GEW categories or situations.
In concluding, Mr Speaker sir, this Bill is holistic in its approach and balanced.
I support this Bill. Thank you.
Watch the speech here.