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Discussion Starter #1
I am sure this topic is hotly debated amongst cruisers, but in light of Peter Blake''s recent murder, I''ll throw this out. Is having one or more weapons aboard advisable when cruising?

If I could guarantee that all I would lose is some material wealth, I would say no. But I wonder about that scenario where the attackers are not intending to leave live witnesses to their crime.

Some concerns I see:

1. If you really need it and don''t have it, you could be in big trouble.

2. If you have a weapon, you had better be skilled in its care and use.

3. If you pull it out during an incident, you had better be prepared to use it.

4. Some places probably make it illegal to possess, so you either can''t go there, give up the weapon, or hide it and risk who knows what punishment if authorities find it.

5. As in Blake''s case, there might be more armed attackers than you could ever hope to handle, so if you bring out a weapon you might just be guaranteeing death or injury for your crew.

I await the many opinions. TIA.

Duane
 

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The biggest risk is in the illegality of the weapon and the requirement of surrender upon entering a jurisdiction''s waters. At that point, if you stay legal, you ain''t got nothin''. Here in the Virgin Islands they''re trying to pass another gun bill that would make possession of an unlicensed weapon subject to some ungodly fine in the $50K range and something like a min. 10 years. They won''t swallow the notion that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Unfortunately, all the gun incidents down here are locals on locals for generally minor disputes, robberies, etc. Lots of people have illegal weapons - but many of them will never be bothered because they are either related to or worked for someone with the police or government. I think a couple three flare guns, spear guns (all of which must be surrendered in many ports), etc. might be a good idea. Bruce Van Sant speaks in his book of having a 9 mil on board. I''ve got a feeling that was long ago and far away. Personally, a pair of 3"mag Mossberg Mariners would be my selection. Wish I had one when the damn hammerhead ate our big wahoo sunday......
 

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Ahoy, DuaneIsing, As a confirmed firearms person I have the same question on my mind . I know I''am legal in US waters and so long as I declare and surrender all weapons at the time of entry (I understand some even count ammo) in foreign ports I''d like to think I''d be alright? Of course my simplest advise in Mr. Blake''s case is a man has got to know his limitations. Pick up a gun and you have to really believe and understand that your life is the coin that is tossed up in the air. No property is worth the price. Big Red 56
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks to all for the responses so far.

Even though I designed small and medium caliber cannon for the US DoD for 8 years, I have never yet owned a gun; I know that seems strange. I am a firm believer, however, in our right (in the U.S.A.) to own one. VIEXILE has it right when he says, "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."

The point about surrendering weapons upon arrival is troubling to me. I think I''m much more likely to need a defensive weapon at anchor somewhere than out at sea. I still have time to decide what I want to do (cruising is 3+ years off). I do know that my wife insists on an intruder alarm system.

As BigRed56 says, once you pick up that gun you''re gambling with your life (and maybe that of your crew, too.). I seem to be rambling now, but the thought that just popped into my head is the recent hijakings on 9-11. The conventional wisdom used to be: remain passive and all will be OK. I wonder how many people have had a final second of consciousness to regret not providing for their own protection.

I''m pretty sure there will be more posts on this. I look forward to your opinions.
 

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My personal choice is not to carry a firearm. As a military member, I am weapons trained and prepared to enter a firefight. That said, being in a firefight would be your worst nightmare and being in a fiberglass boat offers NO cover.

There are many legal reasons not to have a firearm and statistically you are much more likely to have it used against you (by someone you know) or use it to kill an innocent person.

In the situation where you are confronted with an armed group, as Peter Blake was, making an agressive move might get you killed whereas you would have just been robbed.

In a firefight, I would want an assault rifle, sidearm, body armor and some cover (not to mention air power, C3I and SOF backup :O). To enter a firefight otherwise is just rolling the dice as the gentleman mentioned. Do you feel lucky?

For me, personally, I see too many reasons not to. I am not likely to win against a group of armed intruders and if I need to protect myself against one or two amateurs.. well... I am sure I can think of something ;o)


Just my $0.02

Respectfully
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So far we have some valid, logical arguments on both sides (I received some private email reponses too, mostly on the pro "armed" side).

I guess if fates allow, you could find yourself seriously regretting either choice. As John drake says, he sees too many reasons not to. It is apparent that there is no clear answer.
 

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For any sailors interested in the subject of ''modern piracy'', there''s a weekly report on the subject on the Internet. The address is: www.iccwbo.org/ccs/imb_piracy/weekly_piracy_report.asp

Some of these guys take off when the crew shows signs of resistance. It''s probably based on the theory that if you''re too much trouble, they can find easier pickings. Some vessels which ''disappear'' are no doubt also unreported victims.

OER
 

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My personal preference of having a scoped rifle, shotgun and auto pistol on board notwithstanding, the idea of a LOUD alarm system with a panic button appeals initially. Trouble is, are you going to piss your visitors off?
 

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Virgin Islands senate just passed the new "Gun" bill. An unlicensed firearm arrest will cost you $50,000.00 mandatory AND a MINIMUM jail sentence of 25 years. Naturally, as with all Virgin Islands Laws, it will be applied selectively to those not politically or financially connected, but hey, that''s the islands, mon. And by the way, to respond to an earlier post, these ARE U.S. waters, as is Puerto Rico. I''ll bet w/in 12 miles of Massachusetts you could get in a world of hurt with an un (Mass) licensed firearm on board if the authorities wanted to step on you.
 

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I agree with John Drake that coming to armed confrontation would be the worst possible scenario. However, where my wife and children are involved there is no question in my mind. On land I choose to carry a licensed revolver. This means ultimately that I am committed to taking another person''s life if it comes down to my family''s safety. Very hard decision and I hope I never have to put it to the test. When I am by myself I don''t carry.
A radio news report about a year ago stated that about 80% of the time that a victim produced a gun, their attackers fled. This certainly was not the case with Blake.
 

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Excellent point, and that is what makes the decision a difficult one.

In truly wild places in Africa and South America, a hunting rifle with scope is certainly needed. And there is no question that is some percentage of circumstances, just producing a weapon will save you from being attacked. It is hard to say though what would have happened in those circumstances if the intended victim had done something other than produce a gun. You can scare potential attackers away by doing a myriad of things.

I am still not sure the statistics are on the side of keeping a gun, which is why it is a very personal choice. You have to judge for yourself what you believe your most likely circumstances are going to be and how you might protect and defend yourself by other means (radio call for help, speargun, flares, machete, etc). Without question, it has saved many people. Still, you are more likely to have it used against you, more likely to kill someone by accident and much more likely to kill an innocent person by mistake (remember the guy who killed a kid who came to the door either selling something or on halloween or something like that). On the water, at night, it is easy to get spooked. Also easy for someone to attack you.

There is no question that you do whatever it takes to protect your family. I personally find it disconcerting how many people out there are ''prepared'' to take a life and carry the means to do so instantly. Any god honest person can be brought to the point at which they become enraged and with a lethal weapon, can kill you for whatever justification they believe in the heat of the moment. I look around myself and think that maybe strict gun laws are not such a bad thing.

I am not sermonizing, really just thinking outloud and value the conversation.

Respectfully,
 

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Discussion Starter #12
We agree it is a tough personal choice with potentially deadly consequences whichever way you decide. Let''s say you decide YES:

The statistical probablility that your weapon will be ill-used (e.g. against yourself) has been cited often and I don''t doubt it.

My initial thoughts were that if you had weapons aboard, you would most likely want one in your master stateroom (and possibly just inside the companionway) BUT they would be well-disguised and locked. That is to say, you and your mate have the secret knowledge for gaining quick access, but the casual observer would never suspect that the weapon is hidden there. I bet that will be tough to do, but I already have some ideas.

Returning to the idea of an intruder alarm, I was thinking of a perimeter alarm activated by force levels greater than that of birds, activating both an alarm in the master stateroom and perhaps turning on flood lights above deck. The alarm would be activated by the crew upon retiring at night and whenever you go ashore. Any thoughts?

I appreciate this dialog, too, and hope we all gain a little something from it.

Duane
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Not wishing to sound selfish, but if any of us comes up with a clever alarm system, we probably need to keep it quiet. Once the method of operation became known, it would be pretty easy to defeat it, I would guess.

Duane
 

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radio 18,
i do not believe that when you decide to use deadly force that your attacker should "flee" he should be dead. a weapon is not used to scare someone off but to kill them. you really have to decide that when you are attacked you will immediately use your weapon.
If you can''t do that don''t have a weapon.
eric
 

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kimberlite, you bring up a valid point, one that I have wrestled with. I believe it unwise, however, to immediately use a firearm. That should be a last resort. I realize that each situation could be different and that in some the issue may be forced much sooner by an attacker. These are just some opinions on a subject which I frankly have not totallty come to grips with.

As for an alarm, I am reminded of what Slocum wrote in "Sailing Alone Around The World", how he scattered carpet tacks on the deck while anchored in the Strait of Magellan. It would be nice if things were still as simple as that now.
 

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i don''t think slocum had to deal with an
ak-47. (available for less than $200. new and $75 used)

i believe you mis understood my reply.
my comment was to mean; that if you have a gun you must be prepared to use it.
if you are not, don''t own one.

secondly,
a gun should not be used to scare someone off.
if there comes a time that you must unholster, or show your weapon it is now time to use it.

having been in 3 armed robberies, having a fully automatic uzi stuck in my face by a man who had killed 2 cops and a civilian in three separate incidents, and having my father and uncle killed in two separate robberies i have some strong opinions on the subject.

if you own a gun and are not prepared to use it i believe you might at best have it stuck in your face.

i go to work each day armed. i own many long guns and assault weapons and a few dozen hand guns. however i do not sail with one. even when heading to the caribbeani don''t i think the chances of being boarded by pirates is very slim.
eric
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Today''s SailNet article by Liza Copeland is very informative reading on this subject. Hope the link info below comes thru OK.

Duane

http://www.sailnet.com/collections/cruising/index.cfm?articleid=copela0025&tfr=fp
 

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I read Liza Copeland''s article this morning and sent a suggestion to sailnet on the matter. I did not find ANY new thought on the matter, but rather the same old biased and tired commentary by another Canadian. Americans, particularly males, are much more receptive to carrying guns onboard. It''s reflective of our culture. I own several guns, three to be exact, but I do not carry them on board because I am a coastal cruiser not becuase theyare illegal. I will probably carry one when I sail the Carribean - which will be soon I am hope. And I will follow the laws of the nations I visit. In closing, I doubt seriously if there have ever been any comprehensive and unbiased studies on the matter as far as sailing goes. I certainly have seen zero. This particular string of commentary has been the most civil I have seen on the matter, and the contributors should be congratulated. But remember, there are many subjects less controverial which we could be discussing. Such as the repair of dripping stuffing boxes while one stands on their head in a cramped engine compartment, or the replacement of a 20 year old head and the associated hoses. fair winds
jerry
 
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