A nice Swedish self-loading military rifle. A tiny, pin-fire gun from the 1880s. An awesome piece of intricately carved Lithgow-made sporting rifle. Also, a WWI handgun with three mysterious notches cut into its butt. All these are now in the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum as part of the firearm amnesty.
“Actually we know the story of that one,” said the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum volunteer Donna White.
“It belonged to a soldier in the Royal Gurkhas and in 1918 it was used to shoot an attacking local. That’s the third notch. The other two notches we are not sure…”
The mysterious Gurkha gun is only one of those forty firearms which have been donated to the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum as a part of the nation-wide gun amnesty who began this July. This museum has received a further 15 guns to be destroyed, as well as 30 guns who awaiting registration by their owner.
“A lot of the firearms being handed in have been passed down through families or just found in a property’s garage,” said volunteer Kerry Guerin.
And there’s a large self-loading Swedish military rifle who sits across the museum table.
“See, something like that is a lot better with us because it’s prohibited. We’d prefer to keep it here and look after it than have it on the streets.”
Since the amnesty allows people to anonymously surrender weapons, it’s up to the museum volunteers to work out most of the guns’ stories.
“This one was owned by a local family,” Mr Guerin said pointing to an antique rifle. It’s an American Winchester dating to around 1906. But someone must have loved it so much they had it repaired at the factory, it has a Lithgow barrel from the forties or fifties. It could have been snuck into the factory by one of the workers,” Ms White said.
Another anomaly is the sporting rifle made up at the factory for Slazenger in the post WW2 period.
“These were really popular guns in the area. We’ve had a lot handed in.”
But, what sets apart this Slazenger 1B is the intricate tribal carving found on its stock.
“We don’t know who did the carving,” Mr Guerin said.
According to Ms White, the arms handed in. Those made particularly in Lithgow, are “filling gaps” in research.
“Anything that doesn’t go up on display will be used in our research facility.”
The firearm amnesty ends in September.