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Dangerously “GUN FREE” on the High Seas

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Tom Hanks, Hollywood’s most admired and reliable actor, has done it again with his latest film, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS. The riveting movie tells the true story of a huge U.S. tanker captured by Somali pirates in 2009.

The most amazing aspect of the tale as it unfolds on screen involves the take-over of a massive, high tech ship with a crew of more than twenty professional sailors by four barefoot desperadoes in a rickety motorboat. The pirates, however, carried semi-automatic weapons while international rules prevented the American crew from carrying any guns at all.

As Tom Hanks ruefully acknowledges, this harrowing episode carries a politically incorrect, pro-gun message. When you establish a gun-free zone, even on a formidable super-tanker, you set up an inviting and vulnerable target for ruthless bad guys who have no intention of obeying the rules.

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  1. David  •  Oct 16, 2013 at 4:48 am

    The Maersk Alabama is a container ship, not a tanker, some Merchant ships carry a gun locked in the captains safe, many do not, the main reason is economic, most companies find it cheaper to take their chances and if necessary pay ransom than to carry weapons or hire guards

    • derek marlowe  •  Oct 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      david, do you feel better nit-picking?

      To the average person tanker/container-so what?
      A gun locked away isn’t much help when you need it.

      The point of the article, apparently you were to focused on minutea (sp-dont miss your chance) is that gun-freedoms give lowly perpetrators the vast advantage over normally superior law abiding people; which is contrary to the liberal position of fewer guns is safer.w

      • David  •  Oct 16, 2013 at 8:17 pm

        Hi Derek,

        I hope your day is going well, if you notice in my second paragraph I point out that most companies do not hire guards or carry large numbers of small arms because they find it cheaper to pay the ransom.

    • Harley  •  Oct 21, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      The companies may find it cheaper to pay the ransom but what about the human factor? How do those professional sailors feel when “four barefoot desperadoes in a rickety motorboat” are able to overpower them? How do the families feel when advised their loved one has been taken hostage by these gun toting cretins? How does a Captain feel when he has to surrender his vessel to these desperadoes? Due to illogical and dangerous rules like these people are being subjected to murderous outlaws. Does anyone remember the Achille Lauro, a 23.5 ton luxury liner with a crew of 300 and 1300 passengers hijacked by FOUR armed PLO monsters? Will we never learn?

      • Bevin  •  Jan 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm

        Governments assure us that their first concern is “To protect and serve.”
        It isn’t. It never was. It never will be.
        The first concern of governments, or to be more precise, those who self-select and become part of the machinery of government, is to monopolize control over society, and to perpetuate their status as a ruling class.
        This is the mentality behind the “Only police and military should be permitted to have guns” propaganda line.

    • Doug  •  Oct 26, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      I just saw the movie Captain Phillips and found it disturbing. It seems to me that any company that would send their crew in that kind of danger without insisting that they have a way to defend themselves is being grossly negligent. Some well placed 50 cal. guns mounted in strategic places and a trained crew would have ended that whole ordeal right at the start. At least some weapons in the hands of the crew that is trained would suffice. Its great that our military was able to come to the rescue but lets face it, this story could have ended much differently as is the case with others that are not rescued.

      • michalle  •  Mar 17, 2014 at 10:35 pm


    • Melanie  •  Dec 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      As I sat and watched this movie I was astonished at how even though this had happened before the crew just carried on as if they were bulletproof. No one’s life is worth all the cargo on the planet. I personally would not need any job bad enough t risk my life like that, Found the movie a tad stupid considering these facts.

      • Michael  •  Jan 28, 2014 at 8:42 am

        Glad you have the option of not “needing” a job like that. But you are ignoring the fact that someone must do the job and men have stepped up to the task throughout history in much more dangerous situations. They should be armed to defend themselves. You comment about no one’s life is worth all the cargo on the planet is also shallow as that certainly isn’t so. Without all the cargo in the world that we all depend to bring us food, medicines, fuel and goods we would all die. Life is not and can not be without risk. Miners, oil workers, farmers and fishermen have dangerous occupations. Are you suggesting that we don’t farm, fish, obtain oil or mine because we know that several are going to die each year?

      • ida strickland  •  Mar 17, 2014 at 11:37 pm

        I have to agree with you michael. How many people risk their life to saved another. Its scared to see our country being control by foreigners. I would die to save my children. Their is those who do these kind of jobs for living while others may not. But this does not mean their stupid.

    • michalle  •  Mar 17, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      dave, their taking chances they with lives. and you can buy 10x the amount of guns needed. you need more weapons that can fit in 1 safe. 2-4 50 cal anti aircraft guns = no threats.

    • Randy Beard  •  May 17, 2015 at 9:03 am

      I have hunted with a 22 rifle all my life, i could have taken all those Pirates out with any 22 rifle, it is totally insane to travel in pirate infested waters with zero protection…

  2. Joe  •  Oct 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Derek,What part don’t you understand. The laws protect the unlawful by imposition on the lawful. Are we so stupid to continue to be victimized without the ability to respond. Perhaps the entire merchant marine fleet should be nationalized(I hate that word) and be protected by the US Navy.

  3. Dreamduster  •  Oct 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    The middle finger was invented to flash to international laws which puts our sailors at risk. And any actor/pc-activist who fears guns for their own sake should be set assail without a gun near Somalia and see how they fare. The only gun that frightens me is the one pointed at me.

  4. Ellen Chance  •  Oct 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    I’ve followed the pirate stories for years- this particular area has been rife with pirates since American Revolutionary days. A recent story had “Big Mouth” retiring, one of the most infamous pirates of the area. Now he has been captured in Belgium, where he was lured by a police sting using a book deal about his life as bait.

    The pirates are leaving though- many shipping companies are using mercenaries. There has been a DRAMATIC downturn in piracy since 2010. Who’d a thunk it? if you have guns, they don’t go after you.

  5. Dick Dupp  •  Oct 18, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    It’ll be hard for me to pay any amount of cheese to see Hanks – a committed Hollyweord left wing, progressive who undoubtedly sudses like a Maytag at the mere mention of his messiah Obama.
    I wonder if the the movie details the dithering and consternation that beleaguered the inexperienced neophyte administration regarding giving the order allowing the Navy Seals to do what they do best?

  6. Greg Crown  •  Oct 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    No sane cost-benefit analysis would conclude that a gun-free ship – particulalry one plying the waters around Africa – makes more sense than a well-armed ship. Scrap the politically correct stance and get real. Bad guys are out there and you need to defend the crew, cargo and ship – especially in that neighborhood. Such crews need to have ready access to automatic weapons and be trained in their proper use.

  7. Reb Bacchus  •  Oct 18, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Based on the photos I’ve seen of the ship it looked rather run down to me and not state-of-the-art. In other articles the crew has stated that the entire picture is a lie.

    None of that impacts the validity of Michael’s statement on guns and lawlessness. The world has and always will be a place where the lawless prey upon the helpless. I cannot imagine any owner operator who would risk millions of dollars rather than provide protection.

    Pirates are and have always been savages the world will be a better place without them.

    • spencer  •  Feb 17, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      The “savages” comment is without thought. Here’s how it works…desperate starving people are used by low level gangsters, who are bought by corrupt officials, who work for corrupt politicians, who are owned and financed by international bankers who effectively own and run poor countries.on the flip side of this you have faceless accountants deciding not to arm ships! Do you laugh or cry?

      • michalle  •  Mar 17, 2014 at 10:39 pm

        spencer. go to Somali. you will learn about savages first hand. take family and friends.

  8. W. Hobbs  •  Oct 18, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Pirates should be made to walk the plank and left for shark bait.

  9. David  •  Oct 20, 2013 at 4:19 am

    @Joe: U.S. interests are protected by the U.S. Military all the time with being nationalized.

    @Dreamduster: A Merchant Ship may possess firearms, there is no international law that prevents this, I don’t know why Tom Hanks has been saying this, the reason most ships are not armed is economic, this has been changing though Maersk for example now puts armed guards on its ships in this and other high piracy areas, but many companies still do not.

  10. guyver1  •  Oct 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    When I saw the trailer I was immediately disgusted.
    My first and only reaction was “Why on earth would there be no weapons to protect the crew and cargo on that ship!”
    How PC gun control zone of them!
    Defies logic completely.
    I sailed throughout the Caribbean – and trust me, you armed yourself and knew how to defend your vessel.

  11. Dallas Kipp  •  Oct 23, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    To remain free we must be constantly vigilant and challenge the left whenever they attempt to subvert our values and our freedoms and work to defeat leftist politicians.

  12. Al  •  Oct 24, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Hanks is a good actor but there is a reason he and Letterman have a “bromance”. Both are the worst kind of Liberal, frightened by the world and unable to raise a hand in defense of anything.

  13. Al  •  Oct 24, 2013 at 8:09 am

    It is time that merchant ships were given the right and even the duty to defend themselves in some basic way but lethal way.

  14. Foghat  •  Oct 25, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Mr Spock would never have survived in this world today, he would have gone back home long ago. Too much non- logic : disarm sailors, protect hard criminals, give rights to illegal tresspassers, spend more then one takes in, tax everything, elect nobody imposters, dont provide for ones country, accuse war time soldiers of murder….pardon me , my head is going to explo….

  15. Heather T  •  Nov 26, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    It just doesn’t make any sense to me, that these container ships do not equip themselves with defence weapons. There is a lot of talk about the economics. Judging from the movie, I think army ships, helicopters, Navy Seals and the dozens of men and women all involved in apprehending the pirates cost a heck of a lot more than simply arming the ships with weapons. Once it becomes common knowledge that the ships are indeed armed, the pirates will think twice about attacking.

  16. Cameron  •  Dec 30, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    i believe that something like a air marshal but a sea marshal should be put on the boat. Dont get me wrong, i mean i’m a pro gun Texan, but i could see why staying on a giant boat with no land within 300 miles could make a man go mad and go on a shooting rampage or maybe pull it in a fight. Sailors are a tough bunch and tensions could run high.

    • Michael  •  Jan 28, 2014 at 8:49 am

      The gun would be kept locked up until needed , no fear of rampage.

    • AL  •  Mar 16, 2014 at 9:11 pm

      Cameron: It isn’t as bad as you think at sea. After 20+ years as a sailor (as well as the millions who did the same before and after my own time) there are planty of distractions to pass the time as well as ports-of-call and satellite internet.

  17. David G  •  Jan 9, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Perhaps the best solution to the problem is to use a flawed law against itself. Weapons when torn down are often not considered weapons . If the weapons were disassembled until needed then they may not be considered weapons at all. Another way would be to have one cargo container to have weapons in it being shipped lawfully and some how the captain is “informed” of which container it is. The company didn’t put it there. It is a customer’s cargo box the customer just happens to work for the ship owner.

    • Paul  •  Feb 13, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Good thinking that man

  18. Bevin  •  Jan 18, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    As a life-long gun rights champion, watching the four pirates board the container ship was excruciating.
    Assuming the depiction was reasonably true to life, the four pirates could have been stopped any number of ways during the process.
    1. A single RPG fired at the ship before it even came close
    2. A single rifle, shotgun, or even handgun, could have been used to shoot the pirates as they climbed their makeshift ladder, and sent their bodies plunging into the sea.
    3. Even assuming they somehow managed to get on board, a few rifles, shotguns, or handguns, could easily have turned the four predators into the prey of the two dozen crew members.
    The nonsense with the Seals riding heroically to the rescue, burning up millions of dollars of taxpayer money, was totally unnecessary.
    A few thousand dollars worth of small arms, and a crash course in combat shooting for crew members, would have nipped the entire ordeal in the bud.
    In fact, governments created the problem by banning guns for self-defense on private ships. They then present themselves as our saviors, after we have already been put in danger.

    • Bevin  •  Jan 18, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      *skiff, not “ship”

      • Roxie  •  Jan 23, 2014 at 12:23 am

        When you send a fireman into a burning building do you not give him the tools to do his job and survive while doing it? Helmet, face shield, respirator, axe, Fire retardant clothing? Why then should the men on this ship be sent out to sea in an area infested with pirates and not give them the tools they need to do their job and survive at the same time? Common sense. How can there be any debate at all regardless of how you feel about gun control? All you have to do is watch this movie and see what happens when one side is armed and the other isn’t.

  19. cecil inman  •  Feb 25, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Simple, don’t hide. Just do not let them on your ship. The Captain was no Captain at all. Is he still a Captain, I hope not.

  20. shirley Bloomer  •  Feb 27, 2014 at 1:29 am

    I feel if Tom Hanks does not get the best actor award for playing the Captain,Holly wood is as corrupt as I believe it is. I too really want to know if men on these kind of ships are allowed to carry fire arms,or at least have some kind of weapons aboard to protect their selves. I think too many times people,especially Americans do not want to believe this kind of thing does really happen. I would like to know if Captain Phillips ever had this happen again.I reside in the state of Tx. where men and women believe should be able to protect our family and our selves.

    • shirley Bloomer  •  Feb 27, 2014 at 1:31 am

      I did reply

    • shirley Bloomer  •  Feb 27, 2014 at 1:32 am

      I did write a reply

  21. michalle  •  Mar 17, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    wtf. you have scum in skifs taking over super tankers? 3 men took over a tanker. yes 3! wtf. arm these people and KILL the pirates. lock the guns when in port, they will never know. come on. my .45 with 1 clip = no hijack and no bodies.

  22. Andy  •  Apr 10, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Did no one think of Molotov cocktails? They’ve been around since the Spanish Civil War!

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