Wanton destruction of historic pistols

2 August 2003
Letters, Ian C. Turner, Mount Evelyn

In its haste to harvest the political advantage of another gun buyback, the Government has included not only modern pistols but also true antiques made prior to about 1850.

These early, muzzle-loading percussion firearms, many of which are conversions from even earlier flintlocks made in the 1700s, have not been used in crime since the days of the Kelly Gang! They are, however, a very important part of Victoria's heritage, having in many cases been brought over the early settlers.

Such pistols were carried at the Eureka Stockade, used by bushrangers, carried as protection by stagecoages, soldiers at war and at home, constables in early settlements and explorers travelling in the bush - and at every stage of our early history before 1850.

Along with watches and clocks, they are among the most complex and expensive handmade mechanical objects of their time. Nevertheless, it is the Government's fixed intention to crush any it gets unless the owner is or can become one of the very few licensed collectors of modern arms - which, of course, most cannot.

Within a month or two, most of these early artefacts will have been destroyed for ever, to no purpose and at a cost of many millions to you and me (supposing compensation is paid at all, which is now uncertain). This may be a victory of sorts for political correctness - but the worst example of phillistine disregard of the need to preserve historical artefacts that I can recall.

This letter can be found in The Age - Letters - Saturday, 2 August 2003.

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