No.18 - December 2003


Following the shootings at Monash University in October 2002 the Government has introduced sweeping changes to the laws affecting pistols shooting and pistol collecting.

We have already advised you of the law changes that require registration of previously exempt pre-1900 obsolete cartridge pistols and percussion pistols. And we have advised you of the changes to the security and storage requirements to which collections of 6 or more pistols must now conform.

Those of you who were previously exempt from licensing should by now have applied for your category 1 licence - if you haven't then do so immediately because the penalties for possessing unlicensed pistols regardless of type are quite severe.

People who have applied for their category 1 licence will have received, or will receive, a letter from the Licensing Services Branch. This will inform them that their licence request will be processed after the following endorsement has been signed by a Nominated Officer of the collecting organisation to which they belong.

"I, __________Nominated Officer of the above club, endorse this application, being satisfied that the applicant has: a sound knowledge of firearms and related laws and can comply with storage requirements.

Signature__________ Date_________ "

This endorsement, which is included is in substance a mandatory legal obligation imposed on the Guild and its Nominated Officers by the Act, and it precedes any checks that are done by the police.

If an applicant for a Collector's Licence or Permit to Acquire is found not to meet the prescribed storage requirements, or to be otherwise unable to meet the legal conditions imposed by the Licence or Permit to Acquire, then the Guild's status as an approved collector's organisation may be in jeopardy.

It is not an empty threat

Legal advice obtained by the Guild has detailed the changes we will need to make to our procedures. We have no choice because we must protect the Guild and its Nominated Officers in the situation where an applicant or member is found to have not met his/her licence conditions or the conditions of any Permit to Acquire.

Without Government recognition the Guild will cease to exist as a collector organisation.

This is not an empty threat

New Procedures

The procedural changtes are to be implemented in three areas -

1. New Applications for Membership

a. The existing application form is to be scrapped and is replaced by a new form which incorporates the necessaary statutory declarations.

b. The current need to be nominated by an existing Guild member is scrapped, and an applicant for Guild membership must now obtain 2 character references.

c. Besides providing the normal personal information required, including a commitment to attend the Guild Firearms Course and details of other organisations they belong to, it will contain a statutory declaration for completion by the applicant attesting to the fact that they have provided true answers to the questions asked.

d. Only on compliance with all the requirements of the application form will the Guild's Nominated Officer sign the application and pass it for approval to the committee.

e. There will be no exceptions.

2. Applications to obtains a Collectors Licence

a. There will be no need for character references because the applicant will already be a Guild member.

b. Similar requirements to those in the membership application regarding statutory declarations concerning knowledge of firearms, firearms laws and firearms safety will apply for current members seeking to obtain a Collectors Licence, unless thishas already been complied with.

c. The ability of the applicant to meet the Act's requirements for firearm storage and security will be attested to by a statutory declaration.

d. There will be no exceptions.

3. Permits to Acquire.

a. The application for a Permit to Acquire must be accompanied by a statutory declaration that attests:
i. the applicant has a current Category 1 or Category 2 Collector's Licence, and;
ii. the applicant has the storage and security arrangements required by the Act, and;
iii. provides a true description of the firearm.

b. The applicant must understand handgun safety which may be demonstrated by attending a course.

c. There will be no exceptions.

The various forms will be retained in the Guild's records. Once an applicant or member has done the Guild Firearms Course then we consider that they will not need to repeat the course again, unless there is some change in their circumstances. The same paperwork will be required, however for each application for a Permit to Acquire.

Guild Firearms Safety Course

Serge Vercion will design and conduct this course. We thank Serge for taking on this important task.

We envisage that all members will eventually under this course.

Statutory Declarations and Additional Forms

We understand that there will be apprehension and annoyance regarding the introduction of statutory declarations, and also dismay at the proliferation of paperwork. But our legal advice is that this is the simplest method of complying with the new laws.

Any instances found by the police that the individual applicants and members have not complied could result in legal proceedsings that will quite possilble result in jail terms of hefty fines for the persons involved and loss by the Guild of its approved status.

We cannot expose the Guild, its Nominated Officers and its members to those risks. Therefore the onus for compliance with the new laws is put directly upon the individual. We feel that this is the fairest most equitable way of sharing the burden that the new laws have put upon all of us.

We stress that it is your responsibilty to understand the new laws because ignorance of the law and the Guild requirements will not be accepted by us, or the police, as reasons for non-compliance. Any non-compliance could result in draconian legal penalties both for the individual and the Guild, and we are not prepared to allow dilatory members to undermine and destroy our Guild.

The Parliament of Victoria has determine that the collection of percussion and post-percussion pistols is to be in the future a privilege subject to strict licensing conditions, and no longer a right. The privilege must be protected by the Guild implementing and following strict procedures in relation to membership of the Guild, applications for Collector's Licences and Permits to Acquire.

Failure to follow these procedures may result in the loss by the Guild of its approval as a collector organisation. This in turn would result in the forfeiture by all members of their Collector's Licences and loss of the legal right to own collector firearms. Anything less than full compliance by members and intending members will therefore not be accepted.

© Copyright 2005 The Antique and Historical Arms Collectors Guild of Victoria. All rights reserved.