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Florida cops cuff open-carry, balls-out pirate packing 'operational' flintlocks

Yarr, 'tis every seadog's right to trigger his smoke-poles

A Florida pirate was arrested recently after allegedly firing shots at passing cars using his pair of "operational" black-powder pistols, presumably flintlocks.

The Florida Keys Keynoter and Reporter has the story. It seems that Monroe County sheriff's deputies, responding to notifications of shots fired on the old Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon, "found a man in full pirate costume packing operational black-powder pistols in holsters on each hip".

The man, named as Jamie Spiering, 58, was also allegedly armed with "a sword [presumably a cutlass]" and "two knives". Spiering apparently told the officers that he was not actually a buccaneer but an "entertainer", and claimed that he had fired his pistols out to sea without balls* in them.

However a sheriff's spokesperson told the paper that witnesses disputed Spiering's account, saying he had fired a shot in the direction of cars travelling on an adjacent bridge.

The rumbustious open-carry** practitioner was cuffed and charged with misdemeanour disturbance of the peace. He was later released on $328 bail.


We feel we must point out that the correct method of carrying one's firearms for a pirate is not in "holsters" but thrust through a large and probably dirty silk sash, cummerbund or leather belt with gratuitously large buckle worn around the waist.

We are merely assuming here that the pistols were flintlocks in classic style - and indeed that they were smoothbores. Mr Spiering may have been enacting the part of a more advanced pirate, perhaps a 19th-century one, and may have been tooled up with rifled weapons and/or ones using percussion ignition rather than flintlocks. The mention of holsters could even indicate black-powder revolvers such as the early Colts. (Though presumably not the Navy Colt.)

We are aware that this news is a week old, but it seemed too important to pass up nonetheless. ®


*Back in the days of smoothbore firearms, bullets were usually spherical and referred to as "balls". This terminology lingers on in the military, where ordinary ammunition - as opposed to tracer, incendiary or other special rounds - is generally referred to as "ball", even though the projectiles are nowadays conical and supplied as part of a cartridge rather than separately from the propellant charge.

**The carrying of firearms openly in public is banned in Florida in most circumstances, unusually for a US state. The right of open carry is much cherished by some American gun-fanciers, to the point where protests and demonstrations have been known to take place. Open-carry types often grumble about police oppression, though there seems to have been none of that in this case.

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