‘The whole thing is stupid’ – Lithgow City Council backs Small Arms Museum’s Fight

    The LSAF Museum (Courtesy Brendan Maunder)

    In March we reported a law change in Australia could see much of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum’s deactivated and desecrated. Since then a petition has gained over 5,000 signatures and thankfully it seems members of the local city council have recognised the idiocy of damaging such a significant collection.

    The Lithgow Mercury reports that during a March council meeting the situation was brought to the Lithgow City Council’s attention on that Councillor Stephen Leslie told his fellow councillors that:

    The move to render the weapons inoperable will sap the energy out of the museum and its volunteers, the authenticity of the museum would be destroyed. If this matter is not rescinded then Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum will close.

    The council, led by the mayor of Lithgow, Councillor Ray Thompson, has written to the newly appointed New South Wales minister of police – David Elliott, who took the role on 2 April. The letter was passed on through Paul Toole, New South Wales’ transport minister.

    Thompson said:

    This new regulation is not going to make a difference to gun safety, the museum has relics in there and guns that have been there over a long period of time that are only for show, it’s ridiculous to think about putting lead in the barrels. It’s a museum, the whole thing is stupid.

    Paul Toole, who is also a local MP, agreed that the museum is a great attraction and that “we just want to get this matter resolved as quickly as possible for them.” Another local councillor, Steve Ring, said the museum was a key local tourism asset, explaining that “I would say their collection there is not just of state significance but of national or international significance and we have to work with this group, in order to develop and protect it.”

    NSW police minister, David Elliott, said on receipt of the councils letter that he would meet with local representatives to discuss the problem. Kerry Guerin, one of the museum’s staff, believes that a rewording of the law that threatens the collection would: “Allow Museums the right to have a permit with a blanket exemption on the basis that required minimum security and safety systems be in place and regularly audited.” Donna White, the museum’s custodian/curator, told the Lithgow Mercury that “our decision-makers must give more thought to what they are destroying.”

    A total of 10,000 signatures are needed for the petition to be delivered to the New South Wales Police Minister. Currently, there are just over 5,200. Learn more about the petition by clicking here.

    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs www.historicalfirearms.info, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of www.armourersbench.com, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]


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