ESSAY - PART 1

COLLECTORS AND HERITAGE

In the old coal mining days, a canary was placed in a cage and put into mine shafts in order to detect any traces of methane gases that would naturally seep up from deep below the surface of the earth. If a miner saw a canary lying flat dead on it’s back, then he’d know it was high time to get the hell out a’ there!

Arms Collectors feel the same way about their role in Queensland when it comes to the abrasion between the exercise of powers by the Weapons Branch of the Queensland Police Service and the rights and liberties of ordinary law abiding citizens to be bonafide collectors.

Philosophically, it is generally accepted by collectors  themselves that they are merely hunters, gatherers and custodians of their collections for a single generation and that it is their responsibility to ensure that they pass on those artefacts to the next generation in a fit state - preferably in a better preserved, maintained or restored condition than they acquired them. Only in this way will future generations have access to this extremely important aspect of their National Heritage.

Governments do not think philosophically. They desire an outcome, and use all the means at their disposal to attain it. The end justifies the means.

Collectors, by their very nature are, do not think in terms of ends, as Governments do. By and large, collectors are responsible, mature and well behaved citizens who perform an invaluable historical , educational, and preservation role, and are not a threat to Society in any way. They look back and they see what Governments have neglected, and they look forward and seek to preserve what Governments shall not. They see beyond Governments.

The way that Collectors are actually treated in Queensland is a heresy in heritage terms.   The acquisition and preservation of any aspect of arms and weapons heritage here is officially discouraged. It is literally as if disarmament begat peace, and that weapons have been incapable of having any positive or memorable contribution to Heritage, and need therefore be wiped from the public mind.  

Gallipoli and The Kokoda Track, maybe, are excepted.

Institutional Collectors in Queensland (e.g. Museums) reflect the lack of vision of their paymasters. The largest collector of arms, the Police Service itself, displays nothing to the public.

Legislation, said to prevent the misuse of weapons, is instead used to discourage every aspects of private weapons ownership,  particularly collecting.

Restrictions are placed upon every aspect of Arms Collecting, and the role of private Collectors is being attacked by constantly more restrictive regulation changes, licence restrictions, and enforcement caprice. 

The commencement of a collection cannot occur without a licence and the Weapons Branch will decline, as a matter of course, the acquisition of the first weapon on the ground that the applicant is not a bona fide collector.

Go figure - though Catch 22 comes to mind.

Examples of the abuse of legitimate police discretionary powers are repetitive and legion, but the political will to discourage the misuse of power is absent. The community is trained to see the misuse of power as being less serious than the risk of misuse of weapons, and thus are the police emboldened.    

 

 

 

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