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post #1 of 13 Old 07-20-2013 Thread Starter
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Storage of firearms on board

In one of the other forums it was stated that during a USCG safety inspection they were asked if there were guns on board, which raised the questions: why would they ask, and what are the laws about firearms on board? I assume they are the local state laws out to the 3-mile territorial limit and no laws in international waters. Please - I'm not looking for a ranting screed on gun control, either for or against (We've all heard it all.), nor on whether guns should be on board.
Anyone know what is proper and legal?
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Storage of firearms on board

I rather imagine they asked because they're law enforcement officers, and bad guys are sometimes rather dangerous to leos. SOP.
No laws about guns on board that I've run across, doesn't mean they don't exist.

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post #3 of 13 Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Storage of firearms on board

I think this is a fair question that I don't know the answer to.

I know that I can have guns on my boat on the inland waters of the states I sail in.

I know that I can have guns on my boat in international waters.

What is the boundary between inland and international waters for purposes of law enforcement?

Eg - I can put my gun in my car and drive northeast with reciprocal agreements until I get to Maryland. Then (I think) I have to put my gun in the trunk of my car unloaded and separate from the ammo. What about when I sail up the Atlantic coast? When I get to the Eastern Shore of MD do I have to abide by Maryland law if I am inside 3 nm from land? 12 nm from land? If so do the rules for having a gun in my domicile or my automobile apply? If I move out to 12 nm can I ignore MD law?

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post #4 of 13 Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Storage of firearms on board

Never been boarded but I know the Coasties just want to make certain they are safe while on your boat. Some time back I heard of someone who was boarded, they asked and said don't show us, just tell us where they are. They're not going to enforce local gun laws.

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post #5 of 13 Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Storage of firearms on board

I had the same question a few years back. I called the local Coast Guard here in San Diego and asked what their policies were. The one thing that the info Officer said was that you should declare your firearm weapons to them before they board. It makes them feel a whole lot more in control and if you are on the water with a U.S. registry they have the authority to board, search, seize or whatever. If you skirt their question you will cause yourself problems. It is best to declare your inventory as a prelude to their boarding and before they ask. You won't have any problems if you give them the respect they deserve for protecting your shores, and there are not other problems. They are busy and don't like to waste their time with good citizens.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Storage of firearms on board

I've been in law enforcement for 28 years, and I'm not sure if I would answer that question. I might be inclined to tell them it's none of their business or volunteer the information depending on how I measure them up as they board. It's not part of the safety inspection and if they appear to be on a fishing expedition, I'm not helping them.

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post #7 of 13 Old 07-20-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Storage of firearms on board

By way of partially answering my own question this is from the Oregon Hunter Safety Course (my state). "The same rules apply as when transporting firearms in a vehicle—unload and case firearms before transporting them. The action should be open or the gun broken down, whichever makes the firearm safest. " However I'm not sure this is correct. I'm pretty certain what would happen if I started shooting ducks from my car.
Elsewhere, Oregon states that their LEO will enforce boating regulations out to the 3-mile limit.
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post #8 of 13 Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Storage of firearms on board

Jim-
You are subject to state laws of all kinds whenever you are in a state, and that includes the traditional 3-mile boundary out from its shores. And of course you are subject to federal laws at all times in US waters, at least up to the 3-mile line.
Firearms, bestiality, gambling, alcohol...all the same.

LEOs ask about guns (or sometimes "weapons") basically because a "traffic stop" is the most dangerous part of the job. They don't know who you are, and they're afraid of getting shot. Yes, it is that simple, and if you've taken a driving safety course in the last 30 years they pretty much all tell you that if you are pulled over, put both hands on the steering wheel so they are in plain sight. Because whoever comes up to your window is nervous, is afraid you might shoot them, and might do something premature like, ah, panic and shoot you first.

Of course, if you don't answer the question, they'll get even more nervous. You could always respond "Why? Are you looking to buy, or do you just need assistance?" And as we say "This vessel follows United States Navy protocols, so I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of any nuclear weapons on board this vessel."

Guns. That should be the least of their worries.
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Storage of firearms on board

The one and only time that I've been boarded by the CG, they asked what port I was out of, how many people are aboard and do I have any firearms. I really don't understand why they think by asking a question about firearms makes their job any safer. If I was a bad guy I would simply lie. Only two officiers boarded the boat as we maintained course while the GC cutter with the machine gun mounted on deck pulled along side to let the two people including the captain of the cutter step aboard. I followed the captain below deck as the other coastie stayed on deck. The captain turned his back to me with his side arm in his holster and I thought how careless can you be turning your back to someone away from sight of the others. Maybe he was satisfied with my government ID that I was not a threat, but documents can be forged.
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-21-2013
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Re: Storage of firearms on board

As i understand it, at least as the USA goes, the territory of the shoreline state extends out 3 miles from the shore, but the federal limit is the limit of territorial waters, which is 12 miles.

anythign beyond 12 miles is international waters...
except inland.
the borders of lake Superior , huron, erie, st. clair and ontari as well as the st. lawrence weaway are differnt. neither the 12 nor 3 mile limits effectively reply, as the border must be continuous and contiguous.

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