Remember Captain Philips? Yeah, well, that doesn’t happen anymore. “Last July the International Maritime Bureau reported that in the first half of 2015 no vessels had been attacked in the Gulf of Aden or the Red Sea,” theferret.scot reports. Why’s that? You guessed it: guns. The pirates got tired of return fire. Here’s an interesting fact: the firearms used by ships sailing though formerly pirate-infested waters are stored on floating armories, ships anchored in international waters by private maritime security companies (PMSCs) not subject to local gun laws. The Ferret reveals that the Brits exported a lot of guns to PMSCs. Check this out . . .
A report by Omega Research Foundation (ORF) in December 2014 called Floating Armouries: Implications and Risks, said that between April 2012 and September 2013, the UK Government granted licences for the export of 34,377 assault rifles, 5,100 shotguns, 28 machine guns, 2,976 pistols, 12,816 rifles, 1,401 sniper rifles, and 5,294 sporting guns [to 50 British PMSCs].
And this is a problem because . . .
The dramatic fall in piracy has prompted fears that some PMSCs could go bankrupt and guns could fall into the hands of terrorists or criminal gangs.
The past four years has seen the number of licensed PMSCs more than halve, according to ESC Global Security, resulting in calls for tighter guidelines to be introduced.
David Stone, president of the International Association of Maritime Security Professionals, said the UK Government should set up a database of all weapons, with serial numbers, so that the original owners can be traced if the guns end up in unauthorised hands.
He added: “There is a risk that companies no longer doing as much business will not be using the weapons they have – resulting in those weapons just lying on the floating armouries. The problem is – and I’ll keep to the British maritime security companies, or PMSCs – there is no general or central data registry of firearms, or use, by British PMSCs, not even by BIS (Business, Innovation and Skills), which is the UK government department for export.”
Because a registry will prevent the guns from falling into the hands of terrorists or criminal gangs. Here’s an alternative: why not arm the ships holding the guns? Oh wait . . .