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No.30 - June 2006

AMNESTY EXTENDED FOR ANOTHER 9 MONTHS


Starting on Friday the 9th of June, collectors who already held Category 1 or Category 2 Collectors Licences received a letter from the Chief Commissioner reminding them that if they had any pre-1900 antique pistols they would be required to register these by June 30. Enclosed with the Chief Commissioner's letter was the new application form for the Antique Handgun Collectors Licence (AHCL).

The draft of the letter was not shown to the Guild, nor any other collecting organization as far as we are aware, before it was sent out. Your Secretary only became aware of its wording three days before it was sent because a copy found its way to him.

The Chief Commissioner's letter showed no indication that she or anyone else had been advised that many people who have pre-1900 antiques have already registered them to their Category 1 Licences. Many collectors had done this because -

1. They decided to comply with the registration requirement during the amnesty, for fear that when it ended it would be too late to do so.

2. The Registrar's edict issued to dealers in early 2004 that they register all antiques in stock meant that if collectors wished to purchase an antique, either from a dealer or at an auction, they had to acquire a Category 1 Licence to do so, or

3. Before the definition of antique was changed from the old standard of obsolete ammunition to any registrable pistol manufactured before 1900, collectors had to register under a Category 1 Licence any pistol manufactured prior to 1947 that accepted commercially available ammunition.

As soon as the Secretary received the letter he informed the Department of Justice that the letter failed to recognise that many people had already registered pre-1900 antique pistols under their Category 1 licence and it would create immense annoyance amongst all collectors who had met their legal requirements and therefore it should be recalled. The Secretary was advised that an attempt to recall it was made by the Department but unfortunately it was too late.

From the time the Firearms Act was amended in October of 2005 your Guild has on many occasions informed the Department of Justice and Licensing Services Division that the application form for the AHCL be issued promptly, and the effective alarm requirement be defined so that people could comply in a reasonable time. We had also informed the Department that many people had already registered pre-1900 antiques to their Category 1 Collectors Licences.


Therefore it was annoying that the form was issued only three weeks before the end of the amnesty accompanied by a letter that contained a threat of legal action if compliance by the 30th of June was not met, and also failed to recognise that many people had already registered pre-1900 pistols.


What the Guild Did

First

We developed procedures which were intended to help protect collectors from any legal threat if they failed to comply due to lack of time. These were checked by our legal adviser and also sent to Department of Justice for review. We prepared a Very Light to keep members informed but it was overtaken by the announcement of the amnesty and was not sent out.-

However, it included the following guides to obtaining the AHCL and registration of pre 1900 antique handguns and these, while now less urgent, are still relevant.

1. If you have already registered your pre-1900 antique handguns, promptly complete the application and return it through the Guild (who are required to endorse it) and also attach a letter to Registry informing them of your Category 1 Licence number and the pistol details and request that the AHCL be issued to you free of charge because you have already paid the licence cost and that it is unacceptable that you should have to pay for your licence twice.

2. If you already have a Category 1 Licence but have not yet registered your pre-1900 antique handguns promptly complete the application and return it through the Guild (who are required to endorse it) but also attach a letter to Registry informing them of your Category 1 Licence number and the pistol details and request that the AHCL be issued to you at a pro-rata charge because you have already met all the checks required in obtaining the Category 1 Licence.

3. If you are not a licensed collector then you contact Registry to obtain a copy of the AHCL application form or go to this website to download it,

http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?Document_ID=175.

Please note that although the amnesty has been extended these procedures are still relevant, unless in the period of the amnesty there are further changes to the Act.


Second

While those matters were being addressed we began an intensive lobbying campaign to make the Government aware that they had failed to meet the deadlines enabling people to comply. They had failed also to make the public aware of the availability of the forms and the definition of the approved alarm system. Many people who own registrable antiques are not licensed collectors or members of collecting organizations. This was promised in the letter sent to all collectors in February.

Our campaign was successful and the amnesty has now been extended for another nine months while licensing procedures are reviewed.

(Click here to read the official announcement on the Department of Justice website)


Other Issues

Permits to Acquire

In the Firearms Discussion Paper issued last year it was promised that a means would be found to make acquisition and disposal of antique pistols easier. Despite this promise, and despite Ministerial statements in Parliament and in the press, this has not been complied with. The Guild is fighting strongly to have this commitment by the Government honoured.

The best and simplest way to honour this commitment is a modification or abolition of the Permit to Acquire process for pre-1900 antiques. Using examples from other states we have sent a detailed submission to Department of Justice.


Security

The official requirement for an alarm is that they be of the audible type and have some form of flashing light (and comply with the stated standard).


WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED

The Guild continues to fight for collectors and we are still fighting. We have achieved -

1. An end to monitored alarms.

2. Recognition that antique pistols are not a threat to the public.

3. No display permits for antique arms.

4. All pre-1900 pistols that require registration will be included on the new AHCL regardless of whether they are multi-shot percussion, obsolete cartridge or centrefire, and whether ammunition is commercially available or not. Pre-percussion e.g. flintlock etc. are exempt, and we also secured an exemption for percussion (not cartridge) pistols made before 1900.

5. The AHCL is to have relaxed conditions attached that encompass; no need for display permits, no requirement for fingerprinting and no "effective" alarm requirement unless five other firearms or 15 or more antique handguns are stored on the premises.

6. Lessened security requirements for antique collectors.

We emphasise that the form the AHCL took is not what we proposed. We proposed a system of registration that reverted back to the pre-1984 Antique Collectors Licence in which the owner was licensed and kept a register themselves in which all details of their antiques, acquisition and disposal etc. was entered (a requirement which still exists in the act) and freed collectors from the need for PTAs and thus enabled Registry to concentrate on the more important task of eliminating illegal firearms, rather than inflicting unnecessary paperwork on law abiding collectors. This proposal was rejected and now we are seeing the confused results of this rejection.


WE HAVE REOPENED THE ANTIQUE REGISTRATION DEBATE AND THE FIGHT CONTINUES


Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Guild will be held at 8.00 PM on Monday the 31st of July, 2006 at the Eley Park Community Centre, Eley Rd., Blackburn South.

Any notice of motions and nominations must be in the hands of the Secretary seven (7) days prior to the date of the Annual General Meeting. All Committee positions will be declared vacant and nominations are called for the position (s) of President, Vice President, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer, Liaison Officer and six general Committee members. The ordinary business of the Annual General Meeting shall be as set out in Rule 9 (4) of the Guild's Rules.

Supper will be served after the meeting.


Vale Alf Abela

It was with great regret we received the news that Alf Abela passed away on the 21st of May. Alf was a great stalwart supporter of the Guild and was well loved. He and his wife Monica and sons James and Phillip were always there when we needed volunteers for manning the Guild table at gun shows or looking after the myriad of small tasks at our regular Monday meetings. He will be greatly missed. We are very pleased that Monica and the boys will maintain their involvement with Guild activities.


Donations

Over the past year we have received many donations to our fighting fund. The Committee thanks all those people for their generosity.

In addition other collecting organizations that the Guild represents in the dealings we have with Government have also made sizable donations. We thank -

Golden City Collectors Association, Inc.;
Northern Victorian Arms Collectors Guild, Inc.; and
SSAA Arms & Militaria Collectors Guild - Mildura.

The fight to protect collectors is a unified and expensive effort so we deeply appreciate all contributions whether large or small. Be assured that this money is put to the best use it can be, which is fighting on behalf of heritage arms collectors everywhere.


Storage Inspections

Registry have informed us that from July 1 police districts will be issued with the details of licensed firearms owners so that a complete state wide inspection of storage facilities and firearms can be undertaken. We are advised that currently there are 180,000 licensed firearm owners in Victoria. The inspection will be at the rate of 10% per year - 18,000 each year. Licence holders will be contacted before the inspection so that a suitable time can be arranged. Make sure your storage conditions are what the regulations require.


Guild Web Site

This can be found at - http://www.armscollectorsguild.com
(though if you're reading this here, you've already found it. Well done!)

This has links to other sites and has up to date information on our organization. Any requests for additions or changes should be directed to the contact detail contained in the site.


Caps & Flints

We have a new editor for Caps & Flints. He is Barry Thomas and we look forward to resuming publication.

The delay in getting out this information is because the Committee has had to wait for several official decisions to be finalised. Any questions should be directed to the Secretary on 9584 2907.


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