’NOT WARMONGERING’

Lo­cal show highlights gun his­tory

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - TAY­LOR CAMP­BELL tcamp­[email protected]­media.com

Tom Tweney’s fas­ci­na­tion with firearms first be­gan in high school, when he was on a cadet ri­fle team. Now, the Belle River man ex­hibits his hard­ware at as many gun shows as he can.

“It’s a hobby,” Tweney said. He had his .22-cal­i­bre, sin­gle-shot “boy’s ri­fle” from 1904 on dis­play at Sun­day’s Mil­i­taria, Gun and Sports­man Show at the Cana­dian Trans­porta­tion Mu­seum and Her­itage Vil­lage.

“Some peo­ple col­lect stamps, some peo­ple play golf. Peo­ple that col­lect and re­store firearms, it’s the same thing,” he said. “We don’t re­gard it as a dan­ger­ous thing be­cause most of (us) are law abid­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, we’re get­ting a bad rap.”

Each month, Tweney trav­els to two or three gun shows in On­tario. In ad­di­tion to guns, he dis­plays sev­eral mil­i­tary badges and medals at his ta­ble. His grand­fa­ther’s ser­vice in the Cana­dian Ma­chine Gun Corps dur­ing the First World War in­spired him to start the col­lec­tion.

Tweney, like many of the ap­prox­i­mately 40 ven­dors in the mu­seum’s event hall on Sun­day, has a pas­sion for his­tory and dis­plays it with pride. Some of the ex­hibitors had old coins and mil­i­tary uni­forms to present, while oth­ers had dozens of ri­fles laid out. “Our driv­ing force is his­tory, and you can’t do his­tory with­out guns or weapons,” said Mickey Moul­der, vice-chair­man of the mu­seum’s board. “It’s part of the game.” Moul­der had al­most ten hand­guns, some of them more than 100 years old, at his ta­ble. Though none were for sale, he was ready to share some his­tory with any­one who stopped to lis­ten.

“It’s not a warmongering thing,” Moul­der added, ac­knowl­edg­ing some peo­ple ques­tion the need for gun shows. “It’s just his­tory. It could just as eas­ily be farm­ing, but it touches a nerve. It’s not glo­ri­fied. You don’t see peo­ple march­ing around and talk­ing gib­ber­ish about war. Guns are woven into our past.

“They’re not to be glo­ri­fied,” Moul­der said. “We’re bet­ter off as a na­tion if peo­ple un­der­stand guns as op­posed to be­ing afraid of them. It’s more dan­ger­ous to sud­denly be con­fronted with one and not know which way is up.”

For the fifth year in a row, the Cana­dian Trans­porta­tion Mu­seum and Her­itage Vil­lage hosted the show, which fea­tured a wide va­ri­ety of his­tor­i­cal items, as well as hunt­ing and fish­ing gear. Dur­ing the one-day event, about 400 peo­ple stopped by, ea­ger to buy, sell, trade or learn about the past. “There’s a lot of pas­sion for it in this area, es­pe­cially hunt­ing,” said Emily Atkin­son, me­dia and events co-or­di­na­tor for the mu­seum and her­itage vil­lage. “We get a lot of peo­ple who come out look­ing to buy equip­ment for hunt­ing sea­son.”

En­trance fees paid by at­ten­dees of the gun show help keep the mu­seum and her­itage vil­lage open, said Moul­der. He es­ti­mates it costs $500,000 each year to run the place.

Five staff mem­bers and many vol­un­teers main­tain the 100-acre site, which has about 20 his­toric build­ings in its her­itage vil­lage dat­ing back as far as the early 1800s. Inside the 2,500-square-foot trans­porta­tion mu­seum, an­tique cars, trucks, planes and more are on dis­play.

About 40,000 mem­bers of the gen­eral pub­lic visit the mu­seum and her­itage vil­lage each year, as do about 13,000 stu­dents on class field trips, Moul­der said.

DAN JANISSE

Mickey Moul­der with his dis­play of vin­tage guns was one of the ex­hibitors at the Mil­i­tary, Hunt­ing and Sports­man Show was held Sun­day at the Cana­dian Trans­porta­tion Mu­seum & Her­itage Vil­lage in Es­sex.

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