If all goes as planned I'll be living aboard
a coastal cruiser full-time in 18 months. The only articles of personal property I can't bring myself to part with are my firearms. Most these heirlooms will spend their entire cruising career vacuum-bagged with desiccant to prevent rust. One or two may do bedside duty.
That said, what I'm concerned about is running afoul of various state, federal and local laws when crusing coastal waters. I have a basic knowledge of US firearms law and the classes
of weapons I suspect may land me in hot water
are as follows:
1) Handguns. Some states appear to require registration
of all handguns within their territory.
2) Legally registered NFA weapons, including a "short-barreled rifle" and a suppressor. Some states ban these, and BATF requires paperwork to be submitted each time the NFA item moves interstate. The paperwork can take up to a month to process.
3) Ugly guns
. Some states ban long guns
that have non-pc cosmetic features such as pistol grips and bayonet lugs. I have one or two of these.
My hypothetical cruise
is a leisurely year-long voyage from Texas
and back again, possibly including a brief detour in the Bahamas
So, what jurisdiction (if any) do states exercise over coastal waters? Would I be risking imprisonment if I moored for a week off Long Island
To what extent does FOPA '86 (Firearm Owner Protection Act) protect boaters crusing through unfriendly states?
If the firearms are locked in a secure container, would I be required to allow the Coast Guard to inspect them upon request, or does the CG require probable cause to search locked boxes? It has been my experience that law enforcement is generally ignorant of NFA.
ATF's NFA change of address form wasn't made with cruisers in mind. Is it enough to notify ATF that the NFA items will be arriving at the destination
state after a 6 month cruise
(if the weather
What paperwork (if any) would need to be completed in order to move the firearms into international or foreign waters and back again?
Recommended reading would be appreciated.