I have sent emails off to the usual suspects - our "elected" officials, and asked about this.
My question is below the main article.
Friday, October 24, 2003 -
Random searches on ferries may return
By Ray Rivera
Seattle Times staff reporter
Ferry passengers won't have to endure airportlike screening under new federal maritime-security regulations designed to protect U.S. ports and shipping lanes from terrorist attack.
But the rules, announced yesterday by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, could spell the return of random searches of vehicles boarding state ferries.
The Washington State Ferry System abandoned the searches last year because of costs and after drawing complaints from commuters and criticism from lawmakers and civil libertarians. The state Attorney General's Office added to those concerns when it questioned whether the searches ran afoul of the Washington Constitution, which provides protections against random searches.
Ferry officials yesterday were reviewing the rule changes and tallying what it would cost to implement them.
They also have asked the Attorney General's office to re-examine the search provisions.
The new rules, which differ little from interim regulations put in place in July, give more flexibility to ports, ferries and shipping companies in shaping security plans, said Jim Serrill, director of seaport security for the Port of Seattle.
"The Coast Guard did a pretty good job of getting industry and public input," Serrill said. "They clearly recognized that a one-size-fits-all approach is not the way to go."
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., praised the changes. "The new, more flexible plan will improve safety without compromising service for our communities."
The rules keep in place the Coast Guard's three-tiered threat-security level implemented earlier this year. The levels, similar to the Homeland Security Department's color-coded threat levels, require varying security procedures for each level.
Ports, ferries and shipping companies have until the end of the year to submit security plans to the Coast Guard that spell out how they would implement the new regulations. If the Coast Guard approves, they would have until July 2004 to implement the plans.
The new regulations would require large commercial and passenger ships to have security officers and electronic vessel-identification systems on board.
An original proposal called for all ship and ferry passengers to be screened, their bags X-rayed and their vehicles searched, even under the lowest threat level.
Ferry officials worried the measures would be too costly and cause travel delays.
Under the new system, the ferries can substitute airportlike screening with alternatives, including increased security patrols as well as random screenings of passengers, baggage and vehicles.
While the constitutional question over searches remains, the preamble to the new regulations suggests that federal law would pre-empt state law.
Earlier this year, a similar question arose concerning random searches of vehicles approaching Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. In a legal opinion, the Transportation Security Administration concluded such searches did not violate state law because, among other reasons, courts have consistently recognized the need to protect the public at airports and courthouses.
Port security has been a pressing issue in Washington, home to busy sea ports and the nation's largest ferry system, carrying more than 26 million passengers a year.
Ferry officials were meeting yesterday to read through the lengthy rules to determine how they will affect passengers and the cash-poor ferry system's budget.
"We have been working feverishly to determine how we will apply regulations that became effective in July," said Scott Davis, Washington State Ferries safety-system manager. "Now what we have to do is determine if there's a difference between what was published then and what was published today, and whether there's a difference from a cost perspective."
Ferry spokeswoman Patricia Patterson told The Associated Press that the estimated $20 million cost would be the biggest hurdle. Earlier this year, the Coast Guard estimated the cost at $11 million to implement the ferry-system plan and $4 million annually thereafter.
The federal government has issued grants for port security, including $14.7 million total for the Ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, and $9.5 million for ferry security.
But finding additional money to meet Coast Guard regulations could prove daunting for a ferry system that doesn't have additional funds for security in its biennial budget.
"We're going to try to put together a plan we can commit to," Davis said. "It'll be up to the Coast Guard to decide if that's adequate. We're not going to put something in the plan that we don't have the resources to accomplish."
They will bann them... or maybe just ammunition.
Its for your own safety, of course!
The noose gets tighter. IF we had private ferry service, this would be a competitive advantage "Yes, you can bring firearms aboad! We welcome your business!"
Anything the government does, the government does wrong.
And so the great circle jerk starts....
The Washington State Ferry System says:
Senator Cantwell says:
(She actually responded to me. I must be on her gunowners nut list.)
That's our government! Pass the buck-- the senator fails to take responsibility, the ferry guy says its the feds. Someone is lying.
Hmmm... isn't having the local police doing searches a violation of both the federal and state constitution?
Cool. Maybe they'll start X-raying the passenger trains at the Canadian border, too.
These searches are patently unconstitutional as the Ferry system has been ruled a part of the state highway system (WSSC 1968) and that's how they get to use so much of the gas tax on the ferries instead of roads.
If the ferries are part of the highway system then you can't legally randomly search users just as you can't randomly stop and search cars on I-5.
Of course the judges will rule in favor of screwing us into the ground.
The "MAN" at WSF has spoken:
From: "Thorne, Michael" <ThorneM@wsdot.wa.gov>
Subject: Ferry Security
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 09:38:25 -0800
Dear Mr. Gunowner,
Your email to the Department of Transportation was forwarded to Washington State Ferries for response.
Washington State Ferries has no plans to change our current policy regarding firearms.
You may wish to direct your thoughts to the Washington State Patrol, which is the law enforcement arm of the ferry system,
and the United States Coast Guard, the party responsible for drafting security rules.
Director/CEO, Washington State Ferries
The Feds telling the State "What" and "How" to do things......The States take the money from the Feds, Now the States are as guilty as the Feds. Im not anti-Leo, But I wonder how many more State Troopers will have to be hired on for this See-Duty?.
I want to know what happened to the days where you took out your elected officers and ran them out of town wearing Tar and Feathers?.....Oh wait I know, WE THE PEOPLE, LET THEM MAKE LAWS TO PUNNISH US FOR PUNISHING THEM....
Anyway, back to topic. This is going to be one huge waste of dollars, manpower, and time. But since people are not willing to bancrupt a system when it messes with their comfort, It will be allowed to grow.
Any differences? I notice a few. WE have allowed our police to be turned into a force. We have watched them go paramilitary, even to the small town local PD, while the sheep cry for protection. Instead of insisting the sheep protect themselves, instead of raising cain at this evolution, we sat by quiet. They are ready for combat at the request of the sheep, and we stood by and alllowed it. Too late now. You will be searched. Nicely.
Damn it, would you guys quit ass-raping my thread!! I am trying to be serious here!
What's next, a listing of Phil's favorite bars in West Seattle?
Hey all this stuff started with Drugs. First it was the drug dealers, and many of you said nothing.
Then they went for the "Terorists" and you cheered them on.
Now they're calling you a terrorist.
Email response from one of my elected officials:
"Bailey, Rep. Barbara" <Bailey_Ba@leg.wa.gov>
Subject: RE: Question about new proposed Washington State Ferry rules and firearms.
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 09:14:15 -0800
Thank you for taking the time to email me with your concerns regarding
proposed ferry rules for firearms.
I checked with staff and this is what they found;
According to the Ferries and the State Patrol, if the security level gets to the point that searches are required, the searches will be no different than a routine traffic stop on the highway. At this point in time, there are no
immediate plans for searches.
Unlike the airports, the Coast Guard is not requiring a "no weapons" approach. In other words, concealed weapons are allowable with the
proper permits. Other weapons can be transported on the boats -- preferably
locked in a vehicle out of plain sight (i.e. locked in the trunk or similar secured
location). It is preferred that weapons are transported unloaded -- ammunition kept in another locked in another location.
Discussions are currently being held regarding a walk-on passenger transporting a gun (from a gun show,etc).
So, as it appears, the current planned procedures allow for more flexibility
with firearms than with gas cans. Gas cans remain prohibited.
But, keep in mind that they are still working through the process and will be refining their security procedures over time.
I hope you find this information helpful. I appreciate you taking the time to email me with your concerns as it helps me understand which issues are important to you. Thank you again.
On the 4th of November I recieved a phone call from the Washington State Patrol on this issue:
"The Washington State Patrol upholds the Constutition and laws of Washington State.
The Washington State Patrol will not participate in ANY passenger screenings of the ferry's unless there is a change to the Washington State Constutition.
We ask that if you choose to transport a firearm on the ferry that you do so in keeping with all applicible laws."
Hmmmm, I thought carrying gasoline in a DOT approved container was a lawful activity, too...
The Coast Guard responds:
I am writing to you from the USCG's Maritime
Transportation Security Act (MTSA) Implementation Team Help Desk. Your
questions of Ms. Stover were forwarded to us by our command. The USCG's web
site, http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/mp/index.htm contains information that can
assist you in learning about the new regulations; as they pertain to the
Washington State Ferry System and others.
The regulations require vessels and facilities to be prepared to meet
and appropriately operate under a variety of security threat levels.
Protective actions to be taken at a given threat level with respect to
"dangerous substances and devices", such as firearms, are expected to be in
accordance with the nature of the threat, threat specific directives from
regulating authorities and each vessels or facilities approved security
Thank you for your questions and interest.
v/r, CWO John M.Moriarty
This is the Coast Guard section on "firearms":
We chose the term “dangerous substances and devices” for specific reasons.
The ISPS Code uses the phrase “weapons, dangerous substances or devices” when identifying the intent of certain security measures.
We use dangerous substances and devices because these interim rules do not prohibit weapons that are carried in accordance with the
applicable local, State, or federal laws.
However, vessel or facility owners or operators, in their own proprietary
capacity, may prohibit lawfully possessed weapons as a condition of carriage/entrance. They may also develop and implement procedures whereby weapons and ammunition are temporarily relinquished to the vessel or facility owner or
operator and placed in a secure location for the duration of the voyage or stay at the facility.
The Coast Guard will retain the authority to impose restrictions on owners or operators when necessary to ensure safety or security, or to secure the observance of rights or obligations of the U.S., especially at heightened threat conditions.
The Coast Guard is working with DHS (e.g., TSA) to develop an intermodal policy regarding items that passengers may be prohibited from carrying.
The policy is still being developed but may affect the carriage of certain weapons onboard certain passenger vessels.