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Old November 5, 2009, 10:20 PM   #1
Yanroy
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guns on yachts

For some time now I've had the dream of buying a yacht and living aboard full time (as in no longer having a home on land). This is still just out of reach, but is close enough that I think I need to start planning for it. I was wondering if anyone could provide me with information regarding storage and use of guns on boats. If this is going to be my only residence, I need to know that laws similar to the ones that apply to my house would apply to the boat.

Are there restrictions on storage?
Am I allowed to carry concealed on my boat like I can in my home, even if I am not licensed for concealed carry?
Can I defend my boat just like I can my house?
What are the laws regarding sailing my boat to another state where I am perhaps not licensed to possess weapons? What about going to other countries?

I'm living in MA currently, and I'd probably have the boat registered in either MA or NH, if that makes a difference. Thanks!
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Old November 5, 2009, 10:53 PM   #2
pax
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From what I recall, you're going to run into potential red tape as you pass from the waters of one state to the waters of the next. It doesn't matter where your registry is, IIRC -- just which waters you are in and thus which state law controls. In other words, CT gun laws apply in CT waters, NY gun laws apply in NY waters, RI gun laws apply in RI waters...

Again, this is off the top of my head. Hopefully someone will come along with cites.

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Old November 5, 2009, 11:49 PM   #3
jgcoastie
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Quote:
Are there restrictions on storage?
None federally that I can recall at the moment. Your state laws may require certain safeguards from children, but that is only applicable within 3nm from shore.
Quote:
Am I allowed to carry concealed on my boat like I can in my home, even if I am not licensed for concealed carry?
No federal restrictions I can recall, again, your state laws dictate CC restrictions inside 3nm from shore.
Quote:
Can I defend my boat just like I can my house?
Yes, as long as you are within the limits of state law when in state jurisdiction.
Quote:
What are the laws regarding sailing my boat to another state where I am perhaps not licensed to possess weapons?
Same rules that would apply if you drove your automobile there.
Quote:
What about going to other countries?
That's a can of worms you don't want to open. It will largely depend on the country you visit, but check with your local Customs office to determine what paperwork needs to be done.

FWIW, if I'm on the boarding team, all I want you to do is remain still and tell me where the weapons are when I ask you. Most everyone uses the same terminology, something to the tune of:

"Sir, without moving or reaching for them, are there any weapons on this vessel?"
- Yes.
"Sir, again, without moving in any way, where are the weapons located?"
- Over there/on my hip/in the cabin/etc.

One of the boarding team members will retrieve the weapon/s, unload and clear, and I will place a zip-tie through the action. When the boarding is complete, I'll (carefully) cut the zip-ties and return your weapons to you.

During the course of the boarding, I might measure the barrels on shotguns & rifles if they look too short. I'll require you to produce the proper paperwork (tax stamp) if the lengths are too short. Same for suppressors, select-fire/full-auto.

(Side note: For those of you who wish to take your NFA weapons with you on maritime excursions, bring a copy of your paperwork.)

Any further info you need, just ask and I'll point you in the right direction.
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Old November 6, 2009, 12:11 AM   #4
Yanroy
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Thank you, both of you. I assume jgcoastie refers to coastguard? I couldn't ask for a better source than that Re: sailing to another state, you say it would be the same as an automobile. I was hoping for a different answer. Would the same thing apply if it was an RV? For full-time RVers and boaters, I would assume it would count as your residence, and most states have a law to the tune of you can possess unregistered weapons in your residence (I think even MA has a law like this, but it is somewhat self contradicting). Is that not the case? If your residence moves into another state, I assume you're not automatically a resident of that state... interesting problem. The laws really don't account for this lifestyle.
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Old November 6, 2009, 12:27 AM   #5
jgcoastie
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Quote:
I assume jgcoastie refers to coastguard?
You assume correctly.

Quote:
The laws really don't account for this lifestyle.
No, they don't.

Some states have provisions for those who live on the water, but most do not. It is a very interesting problem and if I could offer one piece of advice it would be to tread carefully. Contact your local ATF, Customs, and the state's where you intend to travel.

Stay safe.
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Old November 6, 2009, 01:16 AM   #6
Swampghost
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Having spent many years as a live-aboard, the coastie is technically correct. The truth is different.

First of all you want your vessel documented, not registered. The laws are complex and I won't go into them here.

It's basically 'don't ask, don't tell' on a boat. Most cruisers carry something.

Visiting foreign countries is a different prospect, you need to know their laws prior to visiting and sometimes silence is golden. There are sites for cruisers.

As a kid we cruised from Lake Michigan to the North Atlantic to Africa to South America. As an adult I've been limited to the Eastern Seaboard, the Carribean and South America.

Back in the dope runner days I carried an arsenal on board. It raised a few eyebrows at some immigration points but they understood.

Do be aware that if anything should go down that you are under the jurisdiction of local law. Being documented can count big time here.
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Old November 6, 2009, 02:07 PM   #7
MLeake
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I assume SwampGhost meant....

.... back in the days when drug runners were killing people and hijacking their ocean-going sailboats and cabin cruisers to use as drug haulers...

... not "back when he was running drugs..."

I've had plenty of friends keep weapons aboard, to this day, when sailing in the Caribbean due to that threat, which is still present but not as common as it was in the late 80's and early 90's.

Most of the boaters I knew favored stainless 12ga marine models of some sort.
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Old November 6, 2009, 04:50 PM   #8
jgcoastie
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Quote:
Most of the boaters I knew favored stainless 12ga marine models of some sort.
You'd be surprised (actually, probably not) at how popular AK-variants and AR-15's are becoming for BD, or "boat defense".
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Old November 6, 2009, 05:08 PM   #9
MLeake
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jgcoastie...

... on the one hand, I'm not surprised, since hijackers typically work in teams and mag capacity is a big plus.

OTOH, one of the reasons people liked the 12ga was that, with slugs, it could theoretically slow up a zodiac or dinghy very nicely with a few shots near the waterline.

Personally, I'd rather have the extra range and mag capacity of the rifle, but for use on a boat I might favor a .308 variant (better against outboards, etc).
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Old November 7, 2009, 02:31 AM   #10
SteelJM1
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If the yacht is big enough, why not mount a 30mm deck gun on there?
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Old November 7, 2009, 03:10 AM   #11
jgcoastie
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Quote:
If the yacht is big enough, why not mount a 30mm deck gun on there?
That might raise an eyebrow or two when the big white boat with "U.S. Coast Guard" written on the side happens along...
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Old November 7, 2009, 06:53 AM   #12
blume357
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Most of the above is correct...

Your boat should be documented with the coast guard.... which also means that if the fed government decides they need to use it, they can... but it also makes your boat U.S. property when you go to other countries.... in that regard... the don't tell is the best solution to any defensive weapons these days....

In order of importance....

12 gage pump... 3" mag. OO buck

either an AK or AR.... full metal jacket

handgun...

Don't forget that 12 gage flare gun

I would devise a place for storage that will require some serious searching to find them
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