Residents of the Chifley LAC handed in the fifth highest amount of firearms to police during the 2017 gun amnesty out of all of NSW’s local area commands.
The national gun amnesty kicked off in July and extended over three months until the end of September.
During that period nearly 10,000 firearms and firearm related items were surrendered to NSW police, 275 of those coming from the Chifley local area command.
However, the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum alone received 80 firearms for donation (not included in the LAC figures), the same amount of guns surrendered to police in the entire Mudgee LAC.
Museum volunteer Kerry Guerin said that the museum’s ability to keep and preserve weapons was attractive to gun owners.
“It was very positive, we would love to see the amnesty extended so people can continue to hand in guns anonymously to museums,” he said.
“The police ads for the amnesty, showing guns going through the crusher, just don’t appeal to the average gun owner.”
“People don’t mind handing guns in if they think they’re going to go somewhere.”
The amnesty has mutually benefited the museum, as the majority of firearms they received were sports rifles made at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, like the popular Slazenger rifles produced between 1946-62.
“We’re writing a book on the history of the sporting rifles made in Lithgow, so those guns are helping us with the research,” Mr Guerin said.
“Mainly they tell us about changes in production because they differed over time and a lot of changes went through them. The inspectors marks on the rifle also can tell us who was working here at the time.”
The museum is still looking for any models of Slazenger, single shot, repeats, 0.22 Hornets and 410 shotguns made at the factory. Mr Guerin invited owners of those models to get in touch with the museum.
Another fascinating firearm handed in during the amnesty was a miniature Martini Cadet rifle, converted to an 0.22 calibre with a shortened barrel by a gun smith in the 1940s.
“It was altered to give to an eight-year-old for his birthday,” Mr Guerin laughed.
“The story goes that the boy had an aviary and he was given the gun to shoot the mice and rats who got in. People would be horrified now if someone gave that to a child, but in those days it was normal.”