Australian Museums’ Guns face Destruction

Australian Museums' Guns face Destruction
Australian Museums' Guns face Destruction

Australia -(Ammoland.com)- The most famous firearms manufacturer in Australia is the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. On the grounds of the existing factory site is the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum. The Museum is independently owned and operated, primarily by volunteers, as an independent trust on behalf of the City of Lithgow. Just a few weeks ago, the museum learned that 70 percent of its collection is at risk of being destroyed because of a thoughtless change in firearms law passed in 2017, specifically aimed at museums. Museums were not contacted about the change in the law. They had no input about it. From lithgowsafmuseum.org.au:

LSAFM only found out about the new Regulation when another regional volunteer-led museum had firearms confiscated in early February 2019, and contacted us for advice.

How has the Firearms Regulation changed …

Basically the 2017 Regulation for Museums states that all pistols, self-loading long arms, sub-machine guns or machine guns are to be rendered permanently inoperable.

The irreversible destruction includes:

  • inserting a steel rod traversing the length of the barrel and welding it at the muzzle and chamber;
  • welding the barrel to the receiver;
  • removing the firing pin and welding the hole;
  • removing internal springs;
  • welding internal components;
  • welding any bolts and external hammers; and
  • welding the trigger in a fixed position.

All other firearms, such as bolt action rifles and older antiques, remain temporarily inoperable. But they may well be next in line if this insidious legislation is not overturned. Collectors should also be concerned.

As someone who reads, studies, and writes about Australian gun law, I was surprised by the draconian museum mandates. I do not recall any public debate about the issue. I study legislative procedures. It appears this change was inserted without any actual consideration, about the effect on existing museums, their collections, and historical artifacts.

Australian law requires that legislation be re-enacted every five years. These changes were included in what would otherwise be a relatively unremarkable re-enactment of the firearms legislation.  As I read the description of proposed changes, I noticed all the changes were in the direction of more and more restrictions. Sunset laws only work when those affected by them actually have a voice in the legislature.

Museums already have extremely tight security, as required by law. I have not read of any incidents involving theft of guns from museums. Private collectors, in the legislation, are subject to less restrictions than museums.

Lithgow receives significant revenue from tourism. The Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum is a significant draw for the city. The Lithgow City Council backs the museum in opposition to this onerous legislation.  From lithgowmercury.com.au:

Lithgow City Council has thrown its support behind the Lithgow Small Arms Museum (LSAFM) after it found out that 70 per cent of the museums collection could be destroyed due to new regulations.

The new regulation for museums that went through in November 2017 states that all pistols, self-loading longarms, sub-machine guns or machine guns are to be rendered permanently inoperable.

The situation was brought to council's attention at its March meeting as a matter of great urgency by Cr Stephen Lesslie.

The legislation in Australia appears to be driven by the assumption that firearms, even in museums, are of little or no value. It appears to have taken many of the features from changes in European law about firearms collectors, and applied them to museums in Australia.

An alternate and potential concurrent explanation is that firearms in museums, even rendered temporarily inoperable, are a source of illicit arms for criminal purposes. I have not read of a single case where museum displays were stolen and used in crimes.

To students of firearms and enthusiasts about firearm history and technology, the requirement to destroy key working parts of rare and valuable collector items, to render the actions of firearms incapable of moving, are bizarre sacrifices to the gods of political correctness. It is a direct attack on gun culture and gun enthusiasts, for no serious purpose.

Firearms are centuries old technology. It is relatively easy for small shops to make fully automatic firearms, which has commonly been done in Australia on the black market.

Pistols are simple and easy to make, with commonly available machines, but sub-machineguns are even easier.

The Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum is the premier firearms museum in Australia. It is a national treasure. Many of its exhibits are not duplicated elsewhere.

Requiring museum pieces to be destroyed because of a bizarre fear of theft from museums may be a step too far for Australian firearms regulators.

There is an allowance, in the current legislation, for police chiefs to make exceptions for firearms on an individual basis.

This places all the power in the police bureaucracy, allowing any future police chief to destroy museums at whim.

Relying on the long-term good will of a police bureaucracy is a bad strategy.


About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 29 thoughts on “Australian Museums’ Guns face Destruction

    1. I own a single shot Lithgow .22 that my Dad gave me, he used it to keep his family in food (Rabbits) after WW2. This is another joke when it comes to firearms, the world has gone mad.

    2. Mind you we had everyone ringing their local members of Parliament telling them that there were problems with the legislation in droves and they were all ignored. Democracy just doesn’t exist in Australia anymore. They just ram it down our throats

    3. There are two of my previous handguns in there that were donated by Ron Hayes. A Bren 10 and. Peters Stahl .45 ACP Omega

      Regards
      jb

    4. Two of my handguns are in that Museum. One a Colt Python that I won several Australian Police Pistol Championships with and the other a trophy Browning won with the first mentioned revolver.
      Can I buy them back instead of having them destroyed ?
      I think not !

    5. What do you expect, they just fall in lock step with jolly old England. Whatever the UK does, they follow. Someone posted that we better be careful because the disease is definitely headed our way. By the way, UK how is the European Union or the Brexit working out for you? Sorry, I don’t think I want to follow you over the cliff.

    6. The answer is simple: draw a line in the sand, tell the national government “Molon Labe”, and then let them make whatever move they want to make.

    7. Guns aren’t the problem, drugs are! All the museums which have antique vases, pots and glassware should break or drill holes in them to prevent them being used to cook meth, render cocaine or used as a bong for marijuana.. (Next, maybe they can do away with privately owned kitchens and just let everyone eat at restaurants when they get hungry)..

    8. Legislation to alter or destroy otherwise harmless and/or secured historical artifacts are akin to ISIS as it destroyed every vestige of non-Islamic culture in Iraq and other (at the time) conquered territories.

      Banning citizens from owning or possessing practical (for the purpose) firearms for personal or collective self-defense is akin to virtually every despotic nation’s penchant for disarming its citizenry, at the same time (or shortly before) it drops the hammer on ALL civil liberties.

    9. Sorry- but I can’t muster a shred of sympathy for Lithgow. Hopefully, this turn of events forces them into bankruptcy. For those that don’t know, Lithgow recently decided (within the last week or so) not to sell their new semi-auto rifle (you can look up the make/model) commercially here in the US so as to keep it out of the hands of civilians. They had been planning to export the rifles to America but “someone did something” in New Zealand and they changed their minds. Lithgow can go pound sand.

      1. I also read that Lithgow decided not to sell their Atrax version of the Steyr Aug to U.S. civilians due to “ethical reasons”.
        As if it were unethical to sell a rifle to law abiding citizens.
        It seems unethical to me to destroy the cultural heritage of the nation because bureaucrats hate gun culture.

      2. Did you not read at the top of the article “The Museum is independently owned and operated, primarily by volunteers, as an independent trust on behalf of the City of Lithgow”? Actually the museum is operated *fully* by volunteers, and is *not* owned nor run by Thales (who operate under the name of ‘Lithgow Arms’ for their commercial firearms division).

    10. If you visit the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library on the campus of Texas A & M, you will see a AK47 on display as a war trophy. Yes it’s been cut into 3 pieces also. The BATFE would not even let the President of the U.S. keep a fully automatic weapon intact. Foolish and draconian laws involving gun ownership. All gun laws are unconstitutional.

    11. Soon, to a US state legislature near you…
      We can lament the fall of the once-tough Aussies into their now-snowflake personas but we best look to our own legislators now to prevent this from happening at, say, the museum at West Point, the Patton Museum at Ft. Knox, the NRA museum and all the others.

    12. I’ve lived in Australia for 53 years. I’ve never once seen public consultation on any new laws or amendments to existing laws. As subjects of Her Majesty we are nothing more than idiot tax contributors to be treated like helpless children ,, incapable of making decisions regarding our own personal safety, among other things. So we have our government to do the thinking for us. You can’t even ride a fucking bicycle here in this wide brown nanny state without putting a helmet on. $300 fine if you do. If you buy a brand new power tool and are a contractor ,, you have to pay some wanker to test it to make sure it’s safe and put a tag on it so it can be legally used onsite. Empty brass that’s been sized and primed is considered a live round and has to be locked up with live ammo. The sad thing is , young people here are growing up with this nanny state bullshit and think it’s normal.
      Thanks Aussie Government for keeping us all safe again ,, from imaginary threats.

      1. Let’s see. The DemocRATic Nationalist Committee (COMMUNISTS=SOCIALISTS=ANTIFA=Hitlerites) are pushing hard against the American People.
        Englanders and Aussies with New Zealanders are all SUBJECTS or your “lord and masters”. We Patriots are PUSHING BACK against these PEOPLE CONTROLLERS — NOT — gun controllers. We American Patriots do NOT want to live in a COMMUNIST country where WE do NOT have any SAY in OUR governance.

    13. Then Australia needs to move on and destroy their army’s weapons. Any country that stupid shouldn’t be trusted with offensive weaponry.

      1. The only real solution that would save the pieces in the collection would be to dump the entire lot on the Poulin Auction House.

        1. No, the ONLY REAL solution is for Aussies to take up arms AGAINST their tyrannical govt AND take back their country.

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