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Old 10-05-2011, 11:47   #1
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Reply from DNR re: Guns on Boats in MD

This is not to start a debate about guns on boats!
This is FYI only.
But,

This subject has come up on another forum I participate in and I pursued the question with the MD DNR. I wrote three times and received no response. I then wrote to my State representative and then recieved a reply from the MD DNR.
the letter I wrote is as follows, follwed by the response from the DNR

To: Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Dear Sirs:
I have a question about carrying firearms on a cruising sailboat in Maryland.
The USCG has said to me that State Law is the controlling authority as Federally it is alright to possess a legal firearm on a cruising boat.

Is it legal in the state of Maryland to carry a firearm on a cruising sailboat?

Here is the situation:
I live aboard my cruising sailboat (federally documented boat with MD stickers) for 6 weeks in the summer and cruise Maryland as well as Virginia, Delaware and Carolina waterways.
Maryland law states that it is legal to carry an unloaded secured firearm from a residence to the range or sporting event, between residences, or to a repair shop.
The way I read Maryland Firearms law is that while the boat is under way the legal firearm should be unloaded and secured.
However, while the boat is at anchor for the night, since the boat is then considered a residence, I can have the firearm loaded and at hand as necessary.
I have a concealed carry permit that is legal in Virginia, Delaware, and North Carolina but that is not legal in Maryland.

Finally, are the DNR Police the controlling authority or are the County/State Police the controlling jurisdiction.

I realize that this is a difficult question and may need to be researched.

Thank you for your time and effort.

Dear Mr. redacted:

You are accurate in your assessment of Maryland law regarding firearms on vessels. As long as you possess documentation that the firearm is legal (and I am assuming that it is a handgun) and you separate the unloaded firearm from the ammunition you should not have a problem. However, if you are boarded by a Maryland Natural Resources Police officer I suggest that you inform them that you have a firearm onboard so it is not a surprise and they know what to expect.

Thank you for writing to inquire about the legal requirements for having firearms onboard recreational vessels and boat safely on Maryland waterways.

Captain Davis
Captain Robert W. Davis
Adjutant to the Superintendent
Maryland Natural Resources Police
Tawes State Office Building E-3
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
e-mail: rdavis@dnr.state.md.us
Office - 410-260-8841
Cell - 443-790-8034
Fax: 410-260-8878

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Old 10-05-2011, 11:49   #2
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Re: reply from DNR on guns on boats in MD

Again, this is not to start a discussion about whether one should have guns on boats or not!!!
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:18   #3
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Re: reply from DNR on guns on boats in MD

Quote:
Originally Posted by redcobra View Post
...
The way I read Maryland Firearms law is that while the boat is under way the legal firearm should be unloaded and secured.
However, while the boat is at anchor for the night, since the boat is then considered a residence, I can have the firearm loaded and at hand as necessary ...
It doesn't seem that Capt. Davis specifically answers your second point about a loaded weapon in an anchored boat as residence.
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:21   #4
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Re: reply from DNR on guns on boats in MD

But he does say that he has interpreted the law correctly ( a miracle in my opinion, congratulations....)
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:24   #5
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Re: reply from DNR on guns on boats in MD

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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
It doesn't seem that Capt. Davis specifically answers your second point about a loaded weapon in an anchored boat as residence.
he said, "You are accurate in your assessment of Maryland law regarding firearms on vessels."
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:29   #6
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Re: reply from DNR on guns on boats in MD

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
It doesn't seem that Capt. Davis specifically answers your second point about a loaded weapon in an anchored boat as residence.
He does specifically answer point 1.
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:33   #7
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Re: reply from DNR on guns on boats in MD

I do hope a state official doing official correspondence did not use that cartoon font. Goodness... what are we coming to?

And thank you for posting this.
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Old 10-05-2011, 14:23   #8
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Re: Reply from DNR on Guns on Boats in MD

I have wondered about how having a gun on board was effected legally when the boat moves from state to state as it crusies along. We always seem to only talk about going to different countries. But in the US as far as guns laws each state is different.

Whats the chance the local water cop is going to know the answer if he/she boards you for a "safety inspection"?
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Old 10-05-2011, 16:40   #9
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Re: Reply from DNR on Guns on Boats in MD

I am(was) in this quandary.
I recently traveled to Bahamas and legally declared - no problem.
Now I am headed to New York/New Jersey.
I decided to leave weapon with friends in the South.
It is not worth the risk.
I do not believe that there is an excuse, or variance regarding being in your home or in transit.
And the penalties are compulsory and severe...I think Maryland is similar to NY/NJ
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Old 10-05-2011, 19:29   #10
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Re: reply from DNR on guns on boats in MD

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankZ View Post
I do hope a state official doing official correspondence did not use that cartoon font. Goodness... what are we coming to?

And thank you for posting this.
They did use that font!
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Old 10-05-2011, 21:03   #11
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Re: Reply from DNR on Guns on Boats in MD

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllezCat View Post
I am(was) in this quandary.
I recently traveled to Bahamas and legally declared - no problem.
Now I am headed to New York/New Jersey.
I decided to leave weapon with friends in the South.
It is not worth the risk.
I do not believe that there is an excuse, or variance regarding being in your home or in transit.
And the penalties are compulsory and severe...I think Maryland is similar to NY/NJ
Good move. NY/NJ are worse than MD. However, as a MD resident the the castle doctrine applies when I am anchored in MD, and I can transport the gun from place to place in MD as long as I follow the rules. I also have a Utah non-resident concealed carry permit that is good in 47 states in the US, so I am good from Delaware to Florida if need be.
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Old 10-05-2011, 23:15   #12
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Re: Reply from DNR on Guns on Boats in MD

As I read these posts in which firearms are discussed, I see references made to some official or other possibly coming aboard and "finding" an undeclared firearm. Though I have no intentions of carrying a firearm or any other perceivable contraband, I do have concerns about my privacy. While in the waters of the U.S., I know that you can be stopped and checked out, but can you be boarded by police or Coast Guard and searched without officers having probable cause? I guess I see it as driving from one state to another. Just because you drive across state line, you are not subject to searches of your auto. The 4th amendment still exists out on the water, right? Am I missing something or am I reading to much into this?

Thanks Y'all.
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Old 10-05-2011, 23:17   #13
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Re: Reply from DNR on Guns on Boats in MD

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I know that you can be stopped and checked out, but can you be boarded by police or Coast Guard and searched without officers having probable cause?
Yep.

Called an *inspection*
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Old 10-05-2011, 23:19   #14
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Re: Reply from DNR on Guns on Boats in MD

There was a recent case from NY where an experienced licensed captain, and 6-yr. USCG veteran, was prosecuted for unlawful possession of a handgun without a required permit. The boat was a high-dollar motoryacht with the husband/wife owner & 2 other couples aboard. They were on a cruise from FL to NY & back, and were cruising in the vicinity of the Statute of Liberty in NY Harbor when they were boarded by the CG for a routine inspection. Per std. procedure I'm sure, the CG asked the cap if there were any firearms aboard, to which he responded "yes, there is an unloaded .45 [a handgun] locked in a safe in a stateroom." The CG retrieved the firearm as described by the cap, and for some reason turned the gun & the cap over to NJ auths. on the grounds that the boat was in NJ waters. NJ auths then contacted NY and 2 NY Transit cops drove over the bridge, took the cap into custody, and he was prosecuted for violating NY firearms laws(!). As of 2010, NJ requires a permit to possess both a handgun or long gun, & NY requires a permit for a handgun (NYC is even more restrictive). Apparently it is difficult to obtain the necessary permit, and probably unrealistic if you are not a resident. Under Federal law (the McClure-Volkner Act), it is OK to transport through a restricted state if you are coming from, and going to, states where you are OK to possess. It is doubtful that this Act would apply, however, to cruisers making stops & sightseeing.

Something to be wary of no doubt.
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Old 11-05-2011, 07:01   #15
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As a UK citizen I find this dilemma over handguns rather interesting. I would have thought that once a handgun is obtained and licenced. That licence would be valid over the whole of the US including territories. Certainly in the UK that is the case. I never realised that individual states had a different gun policy. Most confusing, however I have to say that here in the UK if they found a gun onboard. It would most likely result in the call out of some guys in black jump suits who will shoot you. Then if you haven't died, will give you lots of cash as compensation to keep you quiet.

Tis a strange world
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