No.26 - June 2005

Guild working for collectors

May has been a busy month for the Guild. As we advised you in the last Very Light the amnesty on registration of antiques has been extended until December 31, 2005.

Since then our President, Gordon Morgan, and our Secretary, Dr. Malcolm McKay, have met with the Firearms Adviser to Minister Holding to discuss issues affecting collectors. We were asked to prepare further submissions. These have been done and cover the areas now so familiar to all of us - registration of antiques; stamping of serial numbers; security including monitored back-to-base alarms; costs of Permits to Acquire and whether they are of any significance for collectors; and the matter of Category 1 and Category 2 Collectors Licence being treated as seperate licences rather than graduated as with the A and B Shooters Licence.

We expect to be meeting with the Minister in a few days to further discuss these issues and, at his request, to present a small display of weapons.

Early in the month the Guild Secretary travelled to Sydney to meet with the NSW Police Minister Mr Carl Scully to discuss the NSW Government's backflip over the registration of antique percussion revolvers. This trip was undertaken by the Secretary in his other role as Secretary of the Historic Arms Collectors Council of Australasia. It is clear that the NSW Government was pressured into this unjustified actby the same people that launched this destructive attack on our heritage in Victoria.

Time and again we have asked authorities for the evidence that justifies this action. Time and again the only evidence offered that antique percussion pistols area a threat to publis safety is the case of a NSW policeman shot with a .455 centrefire Webley and the alleged use of Remington O/U [over/under] derringers by drug dealers. As we keep pointing out these are cartridge pistols, not muzzle-loaders, and the .455 Webley has always required registration. It is a very serious concern that misinformation of this kind can be allowed to influence Government policy. So the fight to get for a reasoned and just system for arms collectors continues.

Membership Fee rises and the Levy

This has been a long fight - far too long in fact. We understand that it has required more than usual patience from Guild members. In 2003 collectors had changes imposed on them without consultation and since then we have been engaged in a costly campaign what has eaten into the Guild's reserves - costs that may well continue. Throughout this fight the committee has used ever opportunity to press our cause with the Government and we will continue to do so with your support.

Our need to rebuild our financial reserves has resulted in the fee rises and the levy that were passed at the last AGM and which we implemented this year. It is too late once the funds are low or gone and that is why we need the money now. All of us hope that we will not suffer another assault of the kind that was directed at arms collectors when the legislation was amended 2 years ago. Similar unjustified attacks must be repulsed and it is the fact that the Guild has refused to admit defeat and continues to advance the case for collectors that has seen the amnesty extended several times already. The Governmentt knows that we are not going to go away quietly.

The fight costs money and it has escalated far beyond the simple expedient of writing polite letters of some time ago. Newspaper advertisements, advocates and the whole range of activities that accompany any attempt to change unjust legislation are expensive.

The Guild does not waste money and we keep a tight rein and expenses but this fight is more than just about changing legislation it is a fight to maintain our right to collector and study arms. There are people who would be happy to physically crush all historic firearms, or to make the conditions for ownership so onerous that people will be forced to give them up. Our heritage and our rights are at stake in this battle and if we lose because we were unable to afford to carry the fight the extra step to achieve justice for collectors then that would be a tragedy, not just for us but for future generations.

If we lose this fight then we can be assured of similar future legislative injustice drawn from the same 'expert' knowledge of pistols that sees cartridge revolvers misidentified as precussion muzzle-loaders. If we win this fight then perhaps Governments will think twice before attacking us again and perhaps they will be finally forced to admit - as do most western countries - that antique muzzle-loading pistols are important historic artefacts that must be protected; not just 'old guns that sometimes get destroyed'.

Your Guild committee is fighting hard and with great persistence for you but we can only continue if we are in a strong financial position and every dollar helps. The money that is not spent is not frittered away; it is put into safe high interest rate bearing accounts so that we have it ready for future educational campaigns.

When we win this fight we will have a period of rebuilding when we can once more concentrate on displays and educating people about historic arms - a time when the monthly Guild meeting is a plesant social event unmarred by bad news and rumours. But for this to happen we must win our fight and the levy will raise money that will enable us to do this.

Please dig deep


Letter from Registry regarding the Amnesty Extension and Registration of Antiques

It has come to our attention that Registry have circulated a letter to all collectors concerning the amnesty extension which is written in such a way as to give the impression that collectors should use this as an opportunity to register their percussion antiques.


The amnesty was specifically extended to allow negotiations between the Guild and the Minister, Mr Tim Holding, to discuss changes to the legislation which may remove this necessity. Other mattres of concern, such as monitored alarms, cost of Permits to Acquire, etc. are also being discussed.

Ignore the Registry letter - the Guild will keep you advised of the progress of negotiations and their outcome.

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