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FROM THE MINISTER FOR POLICE & EMERGENCY SERVICES

DATE: Sunday, June 27, 2004


CRACKDOWN ON SALE OF SWORDS AND CROSSBOWS

Victoria Police and the State Government will crack down on the sale of swords and crossbows, with new regulations coming into effect from July 1, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Andre Haermeyer, said today.

Mr Haermeyer said the new regulations, which place a greater onus on vendors to ensure they sell swords and crossbows to legitimate buyers, would assist police in clamping down on assaults with weapons.

“Swords and crossbows will be prohibited weapons from July 1, and it will also be an offence for an individual to carry such a weapon without a lawful excuse,” Mr Haermeyer said.

“Self defence is no excuse. The Bracks Government has already provided 480 metal detectors and new search powers to enable Victoria Police to search people they reasonably suspect are carrying weapons.”

People carrying a sword or crossbow without a lawful excuse face up to 6 months in prison or a fine of up to $12,270.

Mr Haermeyer said the new regulations had also been framed to ensure that registered collectors, cultural and sporting groups and individuals with family heirlooms would not be disadvantaged and would be able to seek exemptions.

“The Bracks Government is giving Victoria Police the regulatory tools it needs to help ensure that these weapons do not fall into the wrong hands,” Mr Haermeyer said.

“There are a lot of individuals and groups who have legitimate reasons for owning some swords or crossbows. But what we don’t want is for others to be arming themselves with these weapons.

“From July 1, vendors must keep records of who they sell swords and crossbows to and for what purpose. These records can be regularly audited by police and must be provided on request.”

Mr Haermeyer said the focus of the new regulations was the point of sale and vendors would need to obtain from purchasers:
· Appropriate and current identification;
· Details of any exemption or approval the purchaser has been granted; and
· A description of the sword or crossbow and its proposed use.

“All sword and crossbow owners who fall within an exemption will be required to store and transport the weapons securely,” Mr Haermeyer said.

Under the new regulations, existing sword and crossbow owners who do not fall into the broad exempt categories will be required to:
· Surrender the weapons to local police stations; or
· Sell them to a group or individual permitted to possess them; or
· Apply for an Individual Approval from the Chief Commissioner (or a group of which they are a member may apply for inclusion in an Exemption Order).

The new regulations will be accompanied by an amnesty conditions from 1 July to 1 September. Persons applying for an approval (or whose group has applied for inclusion in an Exemption Order) between these dates will be covered by the Amnesty until a decision has been made on their application.

Swords and crossbows collected will be forwarded to the Victoria Police Forensic Science Centre at McLeod for destruction. Prior to this, Melbourne Museum will be entitled to examine any forfeited weapons to ensure none of historical significance are destroyed.

“An education campaign will accompany the amnesty, so that sword and crossbow owners know their rights under the new regulatory regime,” Mr Haermeyer said.

Individuals who, immediately prior to the new regulations coming into effect, own swords that have never had a sharpened cutting edge also would be exempt. Under the new regulations, a sword is defined as a thrusting, striking or cutting weapon with a long blade having one or two edges and a hilt or handle.

Mr Haermeyer said the broad range of sword owners to be automatically exempt from the new regulations, included:
· People who have legitimate religious or cultural reasons;
· Museums, galleries and groups using swords for theatrical performance;
· Tai Chi and Kendo practitioners;
· Legitimate sword collectors;
· People with one or two swords as heirlooms;
· Serving and former military officers and members of the Returned and Services League;
· Historical re-enactment groups;
· Highland sword dancers, including highland dance schools and their students, and
· Fencers.

General category (non-pistol-grip) crossbows will come under a general exemption. Pistol-grip crossbows, because they are more easily concealable and can be fired with one hand, will require specific approvals if they do not fall within the following exempt categories:
· Museums, galleries and groups using crossbows for theatrical performance;
· Legitimate crossbow collectors who are registered members of collector clubs;
· Serving and former military officers;
· Veterinarians and scientists; and
· A member of a specified target shooting or hunting club.

Sword or crossbow owners wanting further information about the amnesty and new regulations should telephone 1300 651 645 or visit http://www.justice.vic.gov.au

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