The "State" of Our Hobby
By: Keith Wills
The excitement and adventure of treasure hunting for gold nuggets, old lost coins, lost jewelry, and items from our past is in everyone's blood, for we all seek what we do not have. For me, I started metal detecting as a kid to build my first coin collection, it was much more intriguing to search for lost treasures beneath my feet than simply buy a coin collection, which I could not afford at the time.
For over 43 years now my father and I have enjoyed metal detecting together with great success. I will always have our memories we shared of putting on those headphones and the rest of the world disappearing for us. The sweet competition we shared in seeing at the end of the day which of us had found the nicest piece of jewelry or the most coins. We always look forward to that next treasure hunt adventure. However, as time goes on, many outside forces interrupt our long time-shared fun together, even when we fight to hold on to the right to continue to enjoy it.
Today the average metal detector user finds him or her surrounded by new laws enforced to restrict our freedom to enjoy a recreational pastime. However, it may not be too far in the future we see even our own property and our right to do with that property as we wish, taken from us as well. Everyday new laws are going into effect; new Bills are being pasted by our elected officials that most of us are unaware of. To be honest with you, our government has lost the direction of "for the people" yet now enact more laws "against the people". Special interest groups and our government are pushing Bills to restrict American rights; even in our hobbies we enjoy every day.
I know, you feel you are not suffering from any such laws or government control; you're just enjoying the hobby you love so much. Maybe the long arm of government restrictions hasn't reached you yet, that is great, but with the current speed of legislation today being unnecessarily added to and or changed without your awareness, it won't be long. Then what do you do? The city parks you have hunted with your detector for 20 years is now suddenly closed to metal detecting. You no longer can metal detector your local school or playgrounds that you hunt once every week. You find you can't even take your family on vacation to the beach and metal detect anymore. Is it too late to stop this, what can be done?
Let me put it to you like this: if your state government decides to adopt a new Bill to hire an archaeologist for the state and the archaeological groups in your state add to the written Bill to restrict metal detecting on any state or city property as small print to that Bill, then even if the Bill's intent was to hire another archaeologist you will find yourself suddenly with a new law restricting your hobby on many of the very sites you enjoyed. This happens everyday somewhere, like it did to New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico and maybe your state tomorrow. The worst of this is that most of you will not realize this until it is too late, just as the folks in these states did. For once a Bill becomes law, it is near impossible to remove the Bill or alter it. So the only answer must be that we all start paying much closer attention as to what our local, state and federal governments is about to pass that will restrict our rights and freedoms as Americans, this includes the hobbies you enjoy too.
The good news is that there is an organization out there looking after your right to enjoy that hobby and they are called WWATS (World Wide Association of Treasure Seekers) www.wwats.org . WWATS is a proactive organization interested in your rights and the preservation of those rights so to secure a more positive future for the hobby and our children that might also wish to enjoy the same hobby. WWATS is now establishing State Directors in each state with the goal to watch for new Bills or changes in laws that would affect our hobby or the right to enjoy it. Last month WWATS State Director discovered a new Bill in Virginia that would of stop hurt relic hunting in the state. Our State Director immediately contacted the state treasure and relic clubs and many others. By everyone contacting the state delegates, the Bill was reworded and now has removed the threat to relic hunting. Yet the Bill still addresses the hiring of another archaeologist for the state and taking into account the states archaeological group intent of this new hired archaeologist to pursue relic hunters in the state, WWATS is supporting having the entire Bill thrown out since it has little to do with archaeology.
So now that you hear of an organization out there that is helping you, you feel you can just keep hunting and not worry about anything, right! Wrong, numbers is the key to success since our hobby has little financial support to pay for changes in government decisions. So if you truly do love and enjoy the hobby and you are dedicated to wanting to secure a positive future for it, then why not join WWATS. Add your name to the thousands that have already seen the need for a more positive future for the hobby and our right to continue to enjoy it. Become a Paid member and support our efforts to visit those places that really need our help. Be ready to take action against those that threaten it by contacting federal, state and local officials when we call for your support. Support WWATS goals to help others in the hobby. Checkout WWATS website and read of the great things WWATS is doing, trips to Washington DC, state capitols, working with archaeologist—government agencies so to co-exist. Find the latest news about attacks against us, or laws that affect us, even great treasure stories and great PR for our hobby all on the WWATS website. Learn more about where it is legal to metal detect or vacation as a family without being hassled by law enforcement because you didn't know you were in a protected site. Don't wait until it is too late in your state or city to act, become a part of the future today. WWATS needs you, your ideas and suggestions, for we face many more examples everyday of attacks against us all. Don't just leave the problems we all face to others, get involved. All the hobby's organizations should be banding together so to become a strong force against those that oppose us. Don't just talk about it--act now!
Keith Wills, VP WWATS