I'd like to hear your opinion about firearms on a vessel. I plan on cruising with my family, and I am concerned about our safety. Although I am competent with a gun and used to shoot competitively, I would hate to have the same gun used on us or find myself in a third-world prison.
Tom Wood responds:
Guns are a problem outside of the US. Actually, even in the US, gun laws vary from state to state, and it is wise to know what local regulations might cause you grief as you cross state lines. Most countries are far stricter than the US, and we have even been asked to turn in our flare gun in several places. Turning guns into the local police and retrieving them later when you are ready to depart can be a time-consuming and frustrating experiencenot reporting them leaves you open to long jail terms in most countries, especially if the gun is used. Other countries have odd restrictions: guns are OK in the Bahamas, but officials sometimes count the bullets and you have to account for each and every shot fired. Many cruisers in third-world countries have reported that their weapons were used while they were in quarantine, or that they disappeared altogetherof considerable concern when the gun is registered to you.
Overall, I think most cruisers have come to the conclusion that guns are only an American obsession, and that carrying them is usually not worth the hassle. Beside all that, you have to be trained and prepared to kill another human for the gun to be effective, and I doubt most of us gentle sailorly folk would like to depart this life branded as a killer. But it is a decision that each of us has to make for him or herself.
Cheers, Tom Wood