African Piracy and the Second Amendment
The Saudi oil tanker is in the hands of Somali pirates; and in international waters well removed from Somalia off the coast of Tanzania. Here’s Powerline. Here’s a ship that’s worth the better part of a billion dollars carrying a cargo of about 100 million dollars worth of oil. And, it crewed by just 25 men.
I’ll also hazard to guess, other than a random smattering of pistols between the captain and two or three other ranking officers, the ship and crew are completely defenseless.
I’ll not get into the details of what it would take to defend a ship against boarding on the high seas. Or, whether a firefight on board a tanker would actually result in a massive confligration or explosion. But, even if the Saudi owners did not value the lives of the 25 crew members, one still wonders why it would not take better care of an investment in ship and cargo that costs a significant fraction of a billion dollars. But, it seems to me that these crews need to be enlarged to mount a more effective watch. These crews need to be armed and trained to resist and repel pirates. Armed merchant ships are not a historical anomaly.
Why, are these ships, or at least the crews not armed? We know, when it comes to crime at home that calling 911 will not necessarily save your life from criminal predation. And, the police have no legal liability to protect you from a criminal. In a similar fashion, one cannot expect naval forces to be in everywhere, patrolling thousands of square miles of seas and accounting for tens of thousands of ships that pass through the sea lanes along the east coast of Africa. Or, has the 911, call the police to protect me mentality, so permeated the merchant marine as to think that you can operate in international waters in a personal crime-free bubble.
Or, are the tyrants and dictators of these countries that own and flag these respective ships so afraid of an armed citizenry that the loss of 25 crew and a supertanker are a small price to pay to keep their restive subjects under their thumb? Perhaps, arming the crews may not have any material impact on their political control since these armed agents are at sea. But, these crew come home with dangerous and heady ideas of having control over their lives that can only come with the possession of lethal force. Dangerous ideas of why can’t I have the same control over my life at home as on the high seas.