The State Government recently passed laws which will make it easier for lovers of antique handguns to maintain their collections.

Collectors of antique handguns - handguns manufactured before 1900 that use percussion as a means of ignition - could soon store these firearms without an alarm, provided that they store less than 15 antique handguns in the one place.

The Minister for Police & Emergency Services, Mr Tim Holding, said only Victorians who owned more than 15 antique handguns will still require an alarm, but this device no longer needed to be a back-to-base monitored alarm. The new requirement will be for the installation of an 'effective alarm system approved by the Chief Commissioner of Police'.

"We have made the laws more flexible and fairer," Mr Holding said. "Most owners of antique handguns are law abiding citizens with a legitimate interest in historical relics. "Their firearms represent relatively little danger to the Victorian community, considering the age of these firearms and their relatively primitive and unreliable firing mechanisms."

The State Government has also announced changes that simplify the registration of antique handguns. "At the moment, the law states that only pre-1900, pre-percussion handguns may be owned without any form of registration," Mr Holding said.

"We have broadened the registration exemption by eliminating the registration requirement for single shot antique handguns." Mr Holding said the reform should bring Victoria's gun laws into line with the regulatory regime in other jurisdictions. "It makes sense to have nation-wide consistency and we recognise that NSW does not require antique single shot handgun owners to register these handguns," Mr Holding said. Under the changes, owners of all other pre-1900 handguns will still be required to register their handguns, but could expect to be subject to less paperwork and red tape as a consequence of that registration.

"We've created a new licence for collectors of antique handguns," Mr Holding said. "This licence will not require fingerprints or demand as strict stoage conditions as apply to owners of other, more modern firearms."

Owners who wished to apply for the antique handgun collector's licence must have been members of an approved collectors' club for at least six months, and only possess antique handguns. "This gives Victoria the right balance," Mr Holding said. "The State Government has succinctly defined who is a legitimate collector of antique handguns so we can protect and appropriately regulate those Victorians with a genuine, and safe, pastime in historical handguns, whilst maintaining tough restrictions on relatively more dangerous, modern firearms."

The new storage and registration laws will not take effect until 1 July 2006. The existing amnesties affecting handgun collectors will, however, be extended from 31 December 2005 to 30 June 2006, meaning that there will be no change to the existing requirements for antique handgun collectors until 1 July 2006.

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