Arms on Board! The Benefits and Drawbacks of Carrying Armed Weapons While You Sail, Part 2

Hey! Here’s Part 2 of Arms on Board! Enjoy.

The Cons

Shots Usually Lead to More Shots

Yes, we´ve heard it before: the violence leads to more violence argument. But it stands to reason, and it only takes one drunk, crazy person to shoot under the wrong circumstances for all hell to break loose. And who wants to shoot at 15 pirates with only a few rounds? You would probably have a better chance if you just put your hands up.

Someone Could Get Hurt By Accident

Young children, people with no shooting experience…. There are individuals you would never give a gun to who can end up with the gun in their hand, about to cause some real problems.

Someone Could Damage The Boat

Who wants to sink their boat by accident?!

You Could Create a Problem That´s Hard to Fix Onboard

If someone does get shot in the foot, and you´re not close to a hospital, you might wish you´d never brought that firearm on board.

It Could Limit Your Cruising Territory

If you are going to carry arms onboard, you really need to understand and follow the rules within the jurisdiction you decide to enter into. Countries like Mexico, prohibit firearms except by special permit and with some exemptions (like your flare gun).

If your boat is boarded by customs or the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, the information on your cruising permit will be checked carefully against your actual supply and ammunition must match the number on the cruising permit.

Knowing the ins-and-outs of all the rules for each country you´re going to visit might make you alter your plans considerably!

When it comes to the USA, Captain Robert L. Gardana says:

“Federal law allows the transport of weapons in vessels if they are unloaded, rendered temporarily inoperable or are packed, cased or stored in a manner that will prevent their ready use. Under these conditions, no permit is required. As you transgress Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia waters, while the laws are “generally similar” (with some variations and exceptions while fishing or hunting), in most states gun laws that apply to boats often follow similar rules which apply to vehicles.  These states’ laws also prohibit a convicted felon from possessing a firearm under any circumstances.”

On the other hand, if you´re taking a firearm aboard as a concealed weapon, you need to have a concealed weapons permit. Florida permits the use or possession of a firearm while engaging in fishing, camping, and hunting, or going to or from lawful hunting, fishing, camping expeditions, but if you´re pleasure boating, the rules change.

And if you store your firearm on your vessel in the same way as you would in a vehicle (private conveyance)—provided you aren´t in a federal park or refuge, you´re fine.

However, you can´t mess around with registration. U.S. Residents traveling with firearms need to register it with U.S. Customs and Border Protection on a form 4457 prior to taking it out of the U.S.

You need to present the firearm in person to a CBP officer in order to register it. When you re-enter the U.S., a signed CF 4457 form is proof that you did not acquire the firearm abroad.

If you cruise in the Bahamas, that country’s law permits firearms aboard your vessel as part of your ship’s equipment, but they must be declared (including the ammunition count) and stay aboard the vessel in a secure compartment at all times.


So if you do choose to keep a firearm on board, don´t forget to develop a great self-defense plan, secure them well and make sure everyone that will use the weapon has the proper training.

Arms on Board! The Benefits and Drawbacks of Carrying Armed Weapons While You Sail, Part 1

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