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Buff over a barrel on 'nonsense' licence laws

11 August 2003
By Fergus Shiel


Antique gun owners Sally and Laura McMahon are all fired up over new legislation that will force collectors like them to licence and register muzzle-loading percussion pistols.

The McMahon sisters say it is outrageous they could be put to the expense of licensing and securing the guns when they pose no more threat to the community than, say, an antique vase.

Sally, 15, owns a mid-1800s pepperbox pistol. "It's a small pistol used in the Gold Rush. It's just like a vase. you don't use it. It just sits there," she said.

The sisters were introduced to antique gun collecting by their father, a history buff. Laura, 20, has a three-barrel pistol thought to be older than the pepperbox.

Licensing obsolete weapons made as much sense as licensing antique tables, she said: "They're an obsolete calibre. They can't be used as weapons unless you want to hit someone with them."

Collectors of historial and heritage pistols are calling on governments to life the new licence and registration laws as part of the handgun ban. Antique pistols owners will have to undergo safety training and fingerprinting and install monitored alarms to protect their collections.

Historic Arms Collecting Council of Australasia president Gordon Morgan spent yesterday advising antique gun owners about the new laws and assessing the value of their guns at an open day at Blackburn.

Mr Morgan said nowhere else in the world were owners forced to license and register antique firearms, and the move would cost millions of dollars to implement. "It really is a nonsense," he said. "Our heritage will go offshore, and all because politicians have been misled into believing these pistols take modern ammunition, which they can't."

Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison's spokesperson said the new laws "will bring all pre-1900 handguns into line with the requirements...in place for collectors of post-1900 handguns."

The first handgun buyback centre in Geelong was open until 4am Saturday to meet the demand


This story can be found in The Age - Monday, 11 August 2003.

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