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Blake's death revives gun debate

Jan 1, 2003

The death of Sir Peter Blake at the hands of Amazon pirates has revived the debate (if it was ever quieted) of whether voyagers should keep guns aboard for self defense. There are conflicting reports of exactly what Blake was doing when he was gunned down, but most reports from his fellow crew indicate that he was attempting to use a rifle in some capacity to defend his crew. He was then shot dead by the men who had boarded his boat in an attempt to steal a few trinkets. The question is, would Blake be alive today if he had not reached for (or whatever action he made) his gun?

Ocean Navigator has never held a position on this issue, neither encouraging nor discouraging voyagers to carry guns aboard their vessels. This is largely due to the fact that it is a complex issue that is made even more complex by the infinite sailing destinations, which each have varying political pressures, economic climates, rates of crime, not to mention cultural norms and laws that are almost as diverse as the number of ports, themselves.ÃIt remains a deeply personal choice, some people choosing to keep a gun aboard because of the security it offers, others choosing the opposite for the same reason. One thing is clear, however: One can draw a reasoned conclusion about how one feels about keeping guns aboard by being attentive to the experiences of others.

How do you feel about this issue? Excepting cases where having a gun to guard against animals, as in parts of the Arctic where it is against the law to proceed ashore without one, under what circumstances is it sensible? Check out our online survey on this issue, available at OceanNavigator.com, the results of which will be posted next issue.