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Thread: RBA by Citizens of Virginia on the Potomac River

  1. #1
    Regular Member virginiatuck's Avatar
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    Since reading another post on here, I think, about gambling on piers extending from Virginia to the Maryland State line on the Potomac River, I've been reading lately of the long history of Virginia-Maryland border disputes, more specifically with Virginians' (and West Virginians') rights to the Potomac River.

    I'm intrigued by the Compact of 1785, the Black-Jenkins Award, and how they may pertain to a Virginian Citizen's right to bear arms. Unfortunately I have not found an unabridged copy of either document on the Internet. I suppose I'll have to make my way to a library unless someone out there knows where to find on-line copies.

    From the Black-Jenkins Award:
    Virginia is entitled not only to full dominion over the soil to low-water mark on the south shore of the Potomac, but has a right to such use of the river beyond the line of low-water mark as may be necessary to the full enjoyment of her riparian ownership, without impeding the navigation or otherwise interfering with the proper use of it by Maryland, agreeably to the compact of seventeen hundred and eighty-five.
    Virginia has won in Court against Maryland recently after Fairfax County was denied a permit by Maryland to extend its water inlet pipe into the middle of the river. The Court held that Virginia did not need to obtain a permit from Maryland.

    VIRGINIA V. MARYLAND

    My early impressions are that a Virginian Citizen may lawfully carry a firearm while on or otherwise using the Potomac River, where such part of the river is between Virginia and Maryland, as opposed to between Virginia and the District of Columbia.

    More research and deliberation is imperative. I can hear in my head another side of the argument, though I do not agree with it, that possession of a firearm on the Potomac River is not necessary for the full enjoyment of the river. And access to the full texts of those documents could quickly change or reaffirm my mind, as could re-reading any of the long Court opinions; or anything that one of you posts.

    At this moment here's how I see it:
    Carrying a firearm is not outright illegal in the State of Maryland; only a permit is required. If a licensed Citizen of Maryland may carry a firearm on the Potomac River, then considering the aforementioned agreements between Maryland and Virginia and relevant case law, it stands to reason that a Citizen of Virginia may carry a firearm on the Potomac River without obtaining a permit from Maryland because carrying such is legal for Virginians* in Virginia and does not impede the navigation or otherwise interfere with the proper use of the river by Maryland. For all I can fathom, a Citizen of Virginia could still lawfully carry even if it was outright illegal in Maryland. The fact that it's not illegal just makes the case easier to make.

    * (The asterisk acknowledges that there may be Virginians who can not legally possess firearms.)

    If I'm wrong then at the very least one may legally carry a firearm if one keeps his boat on the Virginia side of the low-water mark on the south shore.

    I'm eager to hear others' thoughts.

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    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    The last boat I owned, a 27-foot SeaRay Sundancer, which is classed as a sunbridge cruiser, was also considered for tax purposes to be a second home since it had sleeping quarters, a galley, and a head. Whenever I spent the night on it on the potomac, and its tributaries, you can bet there was a gun in the cabin.


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    Activist Member Wolf_shadow's Avatar
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    Iwouldn't depend on that pact to carry on the Potomac River. It's only for conservation of resources. The Potomac River is in Maryland and patrolled by Maryland DNR police.
    Yes I carry a Bible and a Gun, your point.
    Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (meaning: "A defence of liberty against tyrants")
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    Regular Member virginiatuck's Avatar
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    Wolf_shadow wrote:
    Iwouldn't depend on that pact to carry on the Potomac River. It's only for conservation of resources. The Potomac River is in Maryland and patrolled by Maryland DNR police.
    Have you read the Compact of 1785?

    Certainly the Potomac River Compact of 1958, of which I read in its entirety, is specifically for the conservation and improvement of resources, but only from the main stem of the tidal Potomac River from the Maryland/Washington D.C. boundary line (near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge), to the mouth of the river at Point Lookout, MD and Smith Point, VA..

    Without a copy of the Compact of 1785, I can not determine which rights and privileges were enumerated or if those not enumerated were reserved and inclusive. From what I have read of it, and about it, the pact pertains to the general use of the river.

    I'm still hopeful that the Compact of 1785, in some way, effectively grants reciprocity to licensed (and I use that word loosely) Virginians using the Potomac River.

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    Activist Member Wolf_shadow's Avatar
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    Exerted from http://ssl.csg.org/compactlaws/potomacriverof1958.html

    Article IX. Effective Date

    This compact, which takes the place of the Compact of 1785 between Maryland and Virginia, shall take effect at the expiration of 60 days after the completion of the last act legally necessary to make it operative, and thereupon the said Compact of 1785 shall no longer have any force or effect.
    What was covered in the Compact of 1785 would not matter as the Compact of 1958 replaces it with thebold-ed words above.

    Also see: http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/pdf/129ORIGP.ZOandhttp://www.virginiaplaces.org/pdf/mdvaapp1.pdf which appears to be the compact of 1785, which deals with free passage for the Chesapeake Bay, Potowmack and Pocomoke rivers



    Yes I carry a Bible and a Gun, your point.
    Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (meaning: "A defence of liberty against tyrants")
    Benjamin Franklin said, "A government that does not trust it's citizens with guns is a government that should not be trusted."



  6. #6
    Regular Member TexasNative's Avatar
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    Wolf_shadow wrote:
    What was covered in the Compact of 1785 would not matter as the Compact of 1958 replaces it with thebold-ed words above.
    Logic would seem to dictate that, but in practice, that doesn't appear to be the case. For instance, in the recent Virginia v. Maryland suit before SCOTUS, the decision made numerous and frequent references to the Compact of 1785, but only makes passing reference to the Compact of 1958, and that only in a footnote.

    Further, after reading the Compact of 1958 in its entirety, it seems to be focused almost entirely on the establishment of the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, where the earlier one of 1785 seems to be much broader.

    I don't know, IANAL, and I have no interest in becoming a test case. Then again, I don't spend hardly any time on the Potomac River, so being more cautious doesn't really cause me any inconvenience, either.


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    Regular Member MSC 45ACP's Avatar
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    I know one LESS organization you would have to worry about on the Potomac where this issue is concerned: The U. S. Coast Guard. While I was stationed on the Potomac River(84-86) and doing law enforcement (1983-2003), we only enforced Federal Laws. One of the first questions a boarding officer should ask when coming aboard your vessel is: "Sir (or ma'am), Without touching or reaching for them, do you have any weapons aboard?" When someone answered in the affirmative, we asked for the location and then inform the master of the vessel that while we were there, the weapon would be secured for our safety. A member of the boarding team secured the weapon, unloaded it and put the ammunition in a different place. As we departed the vessel, we told the master where the weapon was and where he could find the ammunition. We never had a problem with a law-abiding boater. The only ones that ever questioned or hesitated when asked about weaponsaboarda vesselwere thosewith outstandingwarrants or had recently commited a crime.

    I was in the Coast Guard and stationed at St. Inigoes, MD. Our "Area of Responsibility" (AOR) was from Smith Point in VA (Virginia sideof the Potomac at the mouth where it meets the Chesapeake Bay) to the Harry W. Nice (Rt. 301) Bridge to Cedar Point (at the mouth of the Patuxent River). Our AOR included Maryland and Virginia waters. We didn't enforce any state firearm laws; when we found a violation of a state fishing law, we would detain (but not arrest) the violators until Maryland Natural Resources Police (MNRP) showed up. Back then, the violation was usually for catching Rockfish (Striped Bass or "stripers"). The fines for taking them was $1,000 per fish and siezure of the vessel. We never had any Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) about detaining anyone for other state law violations.

    I was shocked and very saddened when I heard about Coasties being involved inVIOLATING 2A rightsafter Katrina came to NOLA. I know the local officials were "called" on it, but what of the other agencies that violated people's rights after Katrina?
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    Regular Member virginiatuck's Avatar
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    Wolf_shadow wrote:
    Exerted from http://ssl.csg.org/compactlaws/potomacriverof1958.html

    Article IX. Effective Date

    This compact, which takes the place of the Compact of 1785 between Maryland and Virginia, shall take effect at the expiration of 60 days after the completion of the last act legally necessary to make it operative, and thereupon the said Compact of 1785 shall no longer have any force or effect.
    What was covered in the Compact of 1785 would not matter as the Compact of 1958 replaces it with thebold-ed words above.

    Also see: http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/pdf/129ORIGP.ZOandhttp://www.virginiaplaces.org/pdf/mdvaapp1.pdf which appears to be the compact of 1785, which deals with free passage for the Chesapeake Bay, Potowmack and Pocomoke rivers


    I still believe the Compact of 1958 only replaces those parts of the Compact of 1785 to which it specifically pertains. The Compact of 1958 does not cover the non-tidal portions of the Potomac River north of the District of Columbia. It is still troubling that Virginia agreed to such language in the Compact of 1958.

    As for the Compact of 1785 which you found at least the appendix A, thank you, it states "And all piracies, crimes and offences, committed on the said parts of Chesapeake bay and Pocamoke river, by any citizen of the commonwealth of Virginia, or the state of Maryland, either against the other, shall be tried in the court of that state of which the offender is a citizen. The jurisdiction of each state over the river Patowmack shall be exercised in the same manner as is prescribed for the before-mentioned parts of the Chesapeake bay and Pocamoke river in every respect, except in the case of piracies, crimes and offenses, committed by persons not citizens of either state, upon persons not citizens of either state, in which case the offenders shall be tried by the court of the state to which they shall first be brought..."

    Does this mean that if Maryland would charge a citizen of Virginia with a crime committed on the Potomac river that they would be tried in Virginia? So how does that work? Could Virginia convict someone for the violation of a law of Maryland? What if there is no corresponding law that the citizen of Virginia could have committed? What if the citizen of Virginia was not in violation of the corresponding Virginia law? Would and could the Virginia Court adopt the Maryland law and its penalties for the purposes of the trial?

    I'm pretty sure there's more to the 1785 Compact than this short appendix.



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