For the first time, Coast Guard officials want to mount machine guns routinely on their cutters and small boats around all five of the Great Lakes as part of an anti-terrorism program, reports the New York Times. And Coast Guard members plan to use a stretch of water at least five miles off this Michigan shore – and 33 other offshore spots near cities like Cleveland; Rochester; Milwaukee; Duluth, Minn.; and Gary, Ind. – as permanent, live fire shooting zones for training on their new 7.62 mm weapons, which can blast as many as 650 rounds a minute and send them 4,000 yards.
The notion is so unusual that it prompted United States diplomats to negotiate with Canadian authorities in order to agree that it would not violate a 189-year-old treaty, signed after the War of 1812, limiting arms on the Great Lakes. Some coastal residents say the plan strikes them as dangerous to ordinary boaters, potentially damaging to the Great Lakes' ecosystem and a somewhat surprising place to be bracing for terrorists.