Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 60

Thread: Law on the open seas?

  1. #1
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    02-05-07
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    1,539

    Law on the open seas?

    The thread about guns on yachts got me to wondering about this.
    What laws are there for voyagers on privately owned vessels in international waters? For instance I am in international waters and I am under attack by aggressors?
    Am I constrained by any particular treaty my home country may have signed away my rights in? Am I free to takes whatever action I deem necessary to protect myself? Can I be hauled into court when I return to U.S. soil?

    Does being a citizen of the U.S. restrain me in any way when on international waters?

    Michael

  2. #2
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    06-12-10
    Location
    Kodiak, Alaska
    Posts
    3,469
    You can pretty much do as you please. There are international maritime agreements on a few things like sea mammals, smuggling and piracy, but self defense is not an international crime.

  3. #3
    Moderator  
    Join Date
    11-19-03
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    13,063
    Hoist the Union Jack and run out the cannon!
    If total government control equals safety, why are prisons so dangerous?

    http://czforumsite.info/

  4. #4
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    11-24-07
    Posts
    1,142
    During the last century, there was a tradition that merchant vessels remained unarmed. But that was only a tradition that seems to be breaking down now. Merchant vessels increasingly employ armed security forces (or crew training) when sailing through certain waters. Of course, it's a policy choice by the ship's owner. Each to his own.

    The policies of a few navies around the world sometimes consider any armed merchant vessel to be a pirate ship, but that would only be a policy for determining action during an encounter. It isn't a law on the high seas.

    But those paragraphs apply to the traditions of merchant vessels. A private person on a private boat or ship is not bound by merchant tradition.

  5. #5
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    02-05-07
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    1,539
    But those paragraphs apply to the traditions of merchant vessels. A private person on a private boat or ship is not bound by merchant tradition.
    For some reason I personally believe the U.S. government might say that being a U.S. citizen you must adhere to their laws in the absence of any other jurisdiction.

    Michael

  6. #6
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    06-13-10
    Location
    Western SD
    Posts
    349
    Leave no witnesses.

    Just sayin'.

  7. #7
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    11-24-07
    Posts
    1,142
    Michael: For some reason I personally believe the U.S. government might say that being a U.S. citizen you must adhere to their laws in the absence of any other jurisdiction.
    I would not be surprised. That does sound like a US Justice Department legal opinion.
    I wonder if that opinion would apply if you're on the high seas aboard a vessel registered in some other country?
    Like a Norwegian cruise ship half way across the Pacific.

  8. #8
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    05-10-05
    Location
    Kingsport Tennessee
    Posts
    5,593
    On the open seas, most anything goes except interferring with other seafarers. JFK used to plink cans from his yacht with an M16. I believe it was William Buckley who took a boat into international waters to sample marijuana. Trouble is, once you go to a port or harbor, you are under their jurisdiction.

    If the international fear of guns is gun running, an open "shall-issue" international gun permit system would work better than the current contraband situation. But it would have to be "shall-issue" and all these tin pot dictators obsess over their sense of power. Not just Chuck Schumer, but Quadaffy and Ameanienutjob too.
    Cogito me cogitare; ergo, cogito me esse.

  9. #9
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    05-06-08
    Posts
    2,048
    Does being a citizen of the U.S. restrain me in any way when on international waters?
    No. There are maritime laws and maritime courts, though.

    The only downside of being a citizen of the U.S. is that more people will want to kill you.

    I'm a believer that every ship transiting dangerous waters carry two Xe type guys armed to the teeth. Leave no trace of trouble and keep moving. "Pirates? No, we saw no pirates."

  10. #10
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    06-30-08
    Location
    Blue River Wisconsin, in a little hut in the woods
    Posts
    3,530
    The good thing is you are unfettered to what weapons you can carry on your yacht as long as it isn't considered a heavy weapon, ie, artillery class guns or rocket launchers. Even better thing is it is rare for pirates to attack yachts because the cost of operating their vessels are high enough to make the return on trying to ransom or sell a small private vessel unprofitable.

    Expect a lot of help from the UN, they passed a resolution declaring piracy illegal. Hold your breath and wait for them to enforce it.

    The problem is that unless you are willing to chase down and kill all pirates involved in attacking you and destroying their crafts including their mother ship nothing will be done to the pirates because no nation will take responsibility for holding them, prosecuting them or incarcerating them if they find them guilty, you are literally on your own. Of course as soon as you enter the territorial waters of any nation you are under their jurisdiction, pirate fighting does not qualify you as a Navy and you will b treated as an unlawfully armed person in their country.

    Unless you have the capacity to circumnavigate the globe or at least the ability to get from one gun friendly port to another you will be at the tender mercies of the host country that apprehended you in their waters. They are unwilling to prosecute pirates not caught in their waters but are very happy to make an example of you for having the temerity to defy their laws. If you don't have friends in high places or your brother is not the ambassador of the country you are caught in you will be getting acquainted with the justice system and penal facilities of your host.

    Fighting pirates is a pipe dream for the average Joe Blow citizen unless you are willing to become a bloody savage and have the resources to sail around the world without having to depend on food and supplies from non-gun friendly nations. Our only hope is for some nation somewhere to elect gutsy leaders willing to take the bull by the horns and wage a campaign of no holds barred vs the pirates out to sea and the pirate leaders ashore. Their executives, lawyers and suppliers must be killed or captured. They must be prosecuted someplace where they can be incarcerated with a good chance that they will not be released by some minor functionary or at the request of some warlord.

    Don't count on any Western nation, especially ours and do not count on the UN whose only talent is extorting money from us and wasting it on themselves. If you are independently wealthy and feel strongly about the problem then go my friend and do what must be done. Just do not expect any thanks from the nations and the international corporations whose property you have protected and released and whose money you have saved. Gratitude is lacking, memories of your service will be short and they will fear you because you are strong and brave. Qualities most leaders of the free world lack and do not understand.
    1934 National Firearms Act, 1968 The Gun Control Act, 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, 1993 Brady Handguns Violence Act, 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, 1995 Gun Free School Zones Act, NO MORE COMPROMISING

  11. #11
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    05-27-06
    Location
    Near Golden CO
    Posts
    7,464
    Gratitude is lacking, memories of your service will be short and they will fear you because you are strong and brave. Qualities most leaders of the free world lack and do not understand.

    And fear and actively discourage.
    Trouble is, these jerkwads can pass dumb, self-serving, agenda-driven stupid laws much faster than we can beat them down in the courts. And they're well aware of that.

  12. #12
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    12-21-05
    Posts
    1,275
    Does being a citizen of the U.S. restrain me in any way when on international waters?

    Yes, it does and I'm going to have to disagree with some of the things being said here. So would the Supreme Court. This isn't directed at your questions about defending yourself on the high seas.

    Until Congress acts on the subject, a state may legislate in regard to the duties and liabilities of its citizens and corporations while on the high seas and not within the territory of any other sovereign.
    Apart from the subordination of the State of Delaware to the Constitution of the United States, there is no doubt that it would have had power to make its statute applicable to this case. When so applied, the statute governs the reciprocal liabilities of two corporations, existing only by virtue of the laws of Delaware, and permanently within its jurisdiction, for the consequences of conduct set in motion by them there, operating outside the territory of the state, it is true, but within no other territorial jurisdiction. If confined to corporations, the state would have power to enforce its law to the extent of their property in every case. But the same authority would exist as to citizens domiciled within the state, even when personally on the high seas, and not only could be enforced by the state in case of their return, which their domicil by its very meaning promised, but, in proper cases, would be recognized in other jurisdictions by the courts of other states. In short, the bare fact of the parties' being outside the territory, in a place belonging to no other sovereign, would not limit the authority of the state, as accepted by civilized theory. No one doubts the power of England or France to govern their own ships upon the high seas.
    http://supreme.justia.com/us/207/398/case.html
    I repeat - some people are just itching to get their panties in a wad about something. And this is why I normally stay out of Legal. <sigh>
    Don't think we are going to take your handguns from you, were just going to limit the number of rounds they will hold. orchidhunter

  13. #13
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    06-30-08
    Location
    Blue River Wisconsin, in a little hut in the woods
    Posts
    3,530
    If you aren't under a flag and conducting business but a private citizen on a private vessel and you are not participating in piracy then it would really be hard for the government to make a case against you for being armed with small arms of your choice. Don't let yourself be scared of a bogey man who is afraid to take definitive action against real criminals like pirates.
    1934 National Firearms Act, 1968 The Gun Control Act, 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, 1993 Brady Handguns Violence Act, 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, 1995 Gun Free School Zones Act, NO MORE COMPROMISING

  14. #14
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    12-21-05
    Posts
    1,275
    Old Grump,

    What do you mean by "under a flag"? A US citizen has several choices for registering their boat. They can register it with their home state, document the vessel (registered federally) or declare themselves "stateless" by either giving conflicting claims of registry or saying that they are stateless. You don't want to do that, stateless vessel fall under everybodies jurisdiction.

    If you are on a US flagged vessel (either registered or documented) you are subject to US jurisdiction anywhere except when you are within the territorial seas of another nation. Doesn't matter if you are commercial, private or a research vessel.
    I repeat - some people are just itching to get their panties in a wad about something. And this is why I normally stay out of Legal. <sigh>
    Don't think we are going to take your handguns from you, were just going to limit the number of rounds they will hold. orchidhunter

  15. #15
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    05-04-08
    Location
    REPUBLIC OF TEXAS, DISTRICT OF ROUND ROCK
    Posts
    1,527
    They must be prosecuted someplace where they can be incarcerated with a good chance that they will not be released by some minor functionary or at the request of some warlord.
    Dead pirates don't need to be prosecuted or incarcerated.
    Arm the merchants and sink the pirate boats, with all hands on board.
    "A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
    --George Washington

  16. #16
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    06-12-10
    Location
    Kodiak, Alaska
    Posts
    3,469
    Having spent a good part of my life enforcing the law on the high seas, I think I know a bit about the subject.

    While as an American you are subject to American law, you have a little jurisdictional question to address here. Namely, that on the high seas the US can only enforce those laws that are part of various international maritime agreements - smuggling, piracy, marine mammals, etc.
    So, shoot a whale and the US can arrest you. Shoot a pirate, and what law have you broken?

  17. #17
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    12-21-05
    Posts
    1,275
    Having spent a good part of my life enforcing the law on the high seas, I think I know a bit about the subject.
    So you should be familiar with 14 USC 2 and 14 USC 89, two of the laws that give the Coast Guard LE authority and define what that authority is. Note that both laws state "on the high seas" in addition to waters that the US has jurisdiction over. There is nothing in there about how the CG can only enforce laws that are part of international maritime agreements, 14 USC 2 clearly states all applicable Federal laws.


    The Coast Guard shall enforce or assist in the enforcement of all applicable Federal laws on, under, and over the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States
    http://vlex.com/vid/sec-primary-duties-19228479


    (
    a) The Coast Guard may make inquiries, examinations, inspections, searches, seizures, and arrests upon the high seas and waters over which the United States has jurisdiction, for the prevention, detection, and suppression of violations of laws of the United States.

    When from such inquiries, examination, inspection, or search it appears that a breach of the laws of the United States rendering a person liable to arrest is being, or has been committed, by any person, such person shall be arrested or,

    The officers of the Coast Guard insofar as they are engaged, pursuant to the authority contained in this section, in enforcing any law of the United States shall: (1) be deemed to be acting as agents of the particular executive department or independent establishment charged with the administration of the particular law; and
    http://vlex.com/vid/sec-law-enforcement-19228706

    The term “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States”, as used in this title, includes:
    (1) The high seas, any other waters within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and out of the jurisdiction of any particular State, and any vessel belonging in whole or in part to the United States or any citizen thereof, or to any corporation created by or under the laws of the United States, or of any State, Territory, District, or possession thereof, when such vessel is within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and out of the jurisdiction of any particular State.
    (2) Any vessel registered, licensed, or enrolled under the laws of the United States, and being on a voyage upon the waters of any of the Great Lakes, or any of the waters connecting them, or upon the Saint Lawrence River where the same constitutes the International Boundary Line.
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/ht...7----000-.html

    By "State" they mean another nation, not one of the US states or territories.

    The Coast Guard also uses something called the jurisdictional triangle to determine if a Boarding Officer has jurisdiction. All three sides of that triangle have to be present. The three sides are 1)person/vessel 2)location and 3)offense/crime. If the person is a US citizen or the boat is registered in the US, the location is on federal waters or the high seas (a simplification) and the offense or crime is something we have the authority to enforce then the Boarding Officer has jurisdiction. Here are a couple of examples.

    If a US citizen on the high seas violates the Lacey Act we have jurisdiction. All three sides are present.

    If a US citizen on the high seas violates some state or county law that the CG has not been asked to enforce via 14 USC 141, then jurisidiction does not exist. We have authority over the person, are on the high seas, but don't have authority over that particular offense or crime.

    A US citizen violates a federal law that the CG enforces but they do that while in the territorial sea of another nation. Two of the three sides exist, but since they are within the boundaries of another nation we don't have jurisdiction.

    edit: The OP was asking about defending himself on the high seas. That would make him subject to US law, not some other foreign nation. Other people here have been passing some bad gouge, you can't just go haywire once you are in international waters and think that the US has no jurisdiction or authority over you.
    I repeat - some people are just itching to get their panties in a wad about something. And this is why I normally stay out of Legal. <sigh>
    Don't think we are going to take your handguns from you, were just going to limit the number of rounds they will hold. orchidhunter

  18. #18
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    05-04-08
    Location
    REPUBLIC OF TEXAS, DISTRICT OF ROUND ROCK
    Posts
    1,527
    So you should be familiar with 14 USC 2 and 14 USC 89, two of the laws that give the Coast Guard LE authority and define what that authority is. Note that both laws state "on the high seas" in addition to waters that the US has jurisdiction over. There is nothing in there about how the CG can only enforce laws that are part of international maritime agreements, 14 USC 2 clearly states all applicable Federal laws.
    WAY too complicated DM, Pirates? Shoot them all, feed them to the fish, let God sort out the souls. The actions and the path they have chosen should seal their fate.
    "A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
    --George Washington

  19. #19
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    12-21-05
    Posts
    1,275
    Hey Griz,

    I'm not trying to make it complicated, just pointing out that you still are subject to US law. If the OP is trying to defend himself on the high seas I say have at it. He is subject to US law, not some other nations law.
    I repeat - some people are just itching to get their panties in a wad about something. And this is why I normally stay out of Legal. <sigh>
    Don't think we are going to take your handguns from you, were just going to limit the number of rounds they will hold. orchidhunter

  20. #20
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    02-05-07
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    1,539
    This was part of my original question too.
    Does being a citizen of the U.S. restrain me in any way when on international waters?

    Michael
    This seems to answer that question but also brings up more.
    But the same authority would exist as to citizens domiciled within the state, even when personally on the high seas, and not only could be enforced by the state in case of their return, which their domicil by its very meaning promised, but, in proper cases, would be recognized in other jurisdictions by the courts of other states. In short, the bare fact of the parties' being outside the territory, in a place belonging to no other sovereign, would not limit the authority of the state, as accepted by civilized theory. No one doubts the power of England or France to govern their own ships upon the high seas.
    If the above is correct then a person on a private vessel in international waters engaging in prostitution, gambling or narcotics could be charged when the return to their State of residence?
    On the act of self defense must they follow their state laws or if not in compliance be subject to arrest?

    Michael

  21. #21
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    06-12-10
    Location
    Kodiak, Alaska
    Posts
    3,469
    There is nothing in there about how the CG can only enforce laws that are part of international maritime agreements, 14 USC 2 clearly states all applicable Federal laws.
    What applicable federal laws? Owning a firearm? Shooting a firearm? Shooting an attacker?

    You're not breaking any laws!

    The same is true of the gambling/prostitution/drug use queries above. The laws surrounding these things are state laws (except in limited ways like a crewman using drugs on a US registered vessel) where it falls into the basic safety regulations enforced by the Coast Guard.

    You're thinking in terms of state laws where all kinds of acts and behaviors are illegal, controlled, regulated, etc. There simply aren't many federal laws affecting the individual, except as noted in various maritime laws, regulations and agreements.

  22. #22
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    06-30-08
    Location
    Blue River Wisconsin, in a little hut in the woods
    Posts
    3,530
    If I am a chartered US vessel under a US flag carrying cargo from or to an American port there are a host of laws and regulations that apply to me. If I am a private citizen not conducting business and I am not within the boundaries of any states waters then tell me what possible federal law prohibits me from carrying an arsenal of small arms and weapons if I should so choose. Applicable Federal laws, please, can you get any more vague, What federal law would I be violating. Show me the treaty enforceable by any nation that prohibits me from arming my yacht, houseboat, barge or whatever vessel I may be sailing on if I am in international waters. To be in violation you have to prove I am carrying prohibited material like slaves, narcotics, military grade weaponry like rockets or artillery or NBC weapons for sale or delivery to a prohibited receiver or participating in illegal fishing or committing acts of piracy.

    I'm Joe Blow and I have 6 high power semi-auto rifles of various makes and models with 30,000 rounds of .308 ammo, 8 large gauge semi-auto shotguns of various makes and models with 20,000 rounds of miscellaneous shot from #6 to 00 buckshot and another 10,000 rounds of 12 gauge solid copper slugs, and another 42 miscellaneous handguns in 10 calibers from 22LR to 500 S&W and 14,000 rounds for each caliber would I be in violation of your hazy obscure federal regulation. I think not if I can prove they are all part of my collection for my personal use and I have no history of selling any gun anywhere at any time.

    What it does do is restrict me from most ports in the world and that deprives them of my business but law breaker, what law? I might make King Bloomberg or King Daley wet their panties but I wouldn't be breaking any law as long as I don't set foot in their corrupt little kingdoms.

    Would it make me pirate proof? Depends on how bad they want me and if they are better shots on a rolling deck of a boat then I am. Does it make me an international criminal. It would if I sailed into the port of San Carlos Mexico and sold off my collection to the first man to show me the money. But I don't sell guns, I buy them and shoot them. If I am on high seas I am going to shoot whatever I want as much as I want.

    You'd be surprised at how hard it is to hit a 12" balloon with a handgun bobbing on top of the swells in a light wind. Ask me how I know. Can't do that now that I am in Wisconsin and surrounded by nothing but inland waters. Now with the trash problem in the oceans showing up I wouldn't do that but back in the day it was fun.
    1934 National Firearms Act, 1968 The Gun Control Act, 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, 1993 Brady Handguns Violence Act, 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, 1995 Gun Free School Zones Act, NO MORE COMPROMISING

  23. #23
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    12-21-05
    Posts
    1,275
    Kodiak Beer,

    You did say this, didn't you?

    You can pretty much do as you please. There are international maritime agreements on a few things like sea mammals, smuggling and piracy, but self defense is not an international crime.
    and this, right?

    While as an American you are subject to American law, you have a little jurisdictional question to address here. Namely, that on the high seas the US can only enforce those laws that are part of various international maritime agreements - smuggling, piracy, marine mammals, etc.
    So, shoot a whale and the US can arrest you. Shoot a pirate, and what law have you broken?
    I addressed the little jurisdictional question you brought up. And the fact that you can't "pretty much do as you please". Sorry if you don't care for it but the facts are that you passed some bad info. I also never said it was illegal for the OP to defend himself.

    Old Grump,

    Are you asking me to be a little less vague? I'm not sure who you are talking to or what you are really talking about.

    The good thing is you are unfettered to what weapons you can carry on your yacht as long as it isn't considered a heavy weapon, ie, artillery class guns or rocket launchers.
    If you think you can violate NFA while you are out on the high seas, wrong. If your automatic weapons are legal then it isn't an issue. Nothing you listed as far as semi auto weapons or amounts of ammo is a violation of federal law but then again I never said it was.

    The OP asked this question;

    Does being a citizen of the U.S. restrain me in any way when on international waters?
    Being a citizen of the U.S. does in fact restrain him or her in any way when in international waters. They are still subject to both state and federal laws. So;mebody else here answered the question about being restrained in any way when in international waters with "No." That is another example of bad information being passed here.
    I repeat - some people are just itching to get their panties in a wad about something. And this is why I normally stay out of Legal. <sigh>
    Don't think we are going to take your handguns from you, were just going to limit the number of rounds they will hold. orchidhunter

  24. #24
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    06-30-08
    Location
    Blue River Wisconsin, in a little hut in the woods
    Posts
    3,530
    If you think you can violate NFA while you are out on the high seas, wrong. If your automatic weapons are legal then it isn't an issue. Nothing you listed as far as semi auto weapons or amounts of ammo is a violation of federal law but then again I never said it was.
    I excluded military weapons, machineguns would be in that category. On this point we agree a little bit. Machine guns can be construed as being military but it shouldn't be. Had enough of them in rel life, I have no interest in shooting them today and even less interest in hearing anything go boom as in explosives.

    If you like to shoot Uzi's or Tommy guns or M16's then you should be able to. Mounting a M60 or M2 or any of their modern variants is getting back to being armed like a military vessel. A military vessel not part of a recognized naval force could and should be construed as being a pirate vessel with bad intentions.
    1934 National Firearms Act, 1968 The Gun Control Act, 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, 1993 Brady Handguns Violence Act, 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, 1995 Gun Free School Zones Act, NO MORE COMPROMISING

  25. #25
    Senior Member  
    Join Date
    04-22-09
    Location
    NW IN
    Posts
    379
    Mounting a M60 or M2 or any of their modern variants is getting back to being armed like a military vessel. A military vessel not part of a recognized naval force could and should be construed as being a pirate vessel with bad intentions.
    Carrying an AR15 is arming oneself like military personnel. An armed person not part of a recognized military force could and should be construed as being a gun-nut with bad intentions.

    Or, maybe, one would just like all means possible to defend oneself, in either instance.
    "Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil." - Jerry Garcia
    "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •