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My Humble Opinion

Arm The Pilots - Now

Why is this even being debated?

Don't we already have sufficient evidence on the results of when government disarms its subjects and renders them defenseless?

After the muslim hijacking of four United States civilian commercial aircraft armed only with simple boxcutters, it would seem the race would be on to implement a method whereby the willing passengers and airline employees would not only have the ability to defend themselves, but would also have the means to overwhelm and subdue any criminal minded or ill-mannered occupants of the aircraft.

One solution, do not permit muslims to fly.  That would solve the problem.  However, it’s not practical.  All terrorists are muslims but not all muslims are terrorists.

Another solution.  Assign federal marshals to each flight.  However, it’s not practical.  With 40,000 flights every day, it would require 120,000 federal marshals to secure those flights.  With an average cost to taxpayers of $80,000 per year for each marshal, including salaries and benefits, we are looking at a budget of $9,600,000,000 (9.6 Billion) not counting the enormous federal bureaucracy which would be required to administer them.  The typical government organization of two administrators for each worker, and using the same $80,000 per year cost, we would end up with a total budget of $28,800,000,000 (28.8 Billion).  Then you must add to that, office space, computers, telephones, transportation, guns, etc., etc., etc.  Now that’s a lot of money.  Even to a politician.

Another solution.  Provide handguns to all passengers when they board the aircraft and retrieve the handguns at the end of flight.  Any would-be hijacker would think twice before a foolish attempt at snatching the ship knowing full well that he would be taking shots from 167 fully armed passengers.  However, it’s not practical.  Most of the passengers would be nervous and not proficient at handling and accurately aiming their weapon and in all probability would render considerable damage to the poor souls unfortunate enough to be seated next to or near the hijacker.

Another solution.  Disburse a fast acting, non-lethal gas into the cabin which would immediately cause all occupants to lose consciousness.  The cockpit crew could put on a gas mask and disable the hijacker.  However, it’s not practical.  Even a mild form of non-lethal gas could potentially cause fatal harm to the very young or the very old.

Another solution.  Arm the pilots.  Simple.  Effective.  Practical.  Cheap.

November 19, 2001, President Bush signed into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act.  Just 69 days after September 11, 2001.  That legislation authorized commercial pilots to carry firearms in airline cockpits.  Three out of four pilots and co-pilots are already military trained to handle firearms.  Those that are not, could be trained.  If either the pilot or co-pilot has conscientious objections to shooting terrorists, then the airlines could arrange their schedules so that two of them did not fly together.  We trust these men with a $100,000,000 aircraft and the lives of hundreds of passengers and crew.  Where is the logic in not trusting them with a firearm to defend all that?  Is it because they are not government employees?  Do you know it is legal for forest rangers to carry firearms on board a commercial airline?  So can an animal control officer.  So can an Internal Revenue Service Agent.  The government trusts a weapon in the hands of an IRS accountant (who in all probability would crap his pants if confronted by a terrorist) but not a military trained pilot.  Where is the logic in that?

I’ll tell you something even more asinine about government logic.   They have already established the procedures for the U.S. Air Force to shoot down a commercial airliner should terrorists gain control of the aircraft.  Now think about that.  An Air Force General, 1,000 miles away, thinks the aircraft is lost to terrorists, may not be sure, but gives the order to a 22-year-old F-16 pilot, who thinks the airliner is lost to terrorists, may not be sure, but shoots a missile into an airplane packed with hundreds of civilian passengers and a terrorist.  According to General Ralph Eberhart, Commander in Chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, they have already trained and exercised for that event.  That missile could be fired just moments before, or after, the crew or aggressive passengers subdued the terrorist. 

Arm The Pilots - Now.

Why is this even being debated?  If I own Acme Airlines and I have just paid Boeing $125,000,000 for a 767, and 300 passengers and crew ask me to fly them from Phoenix to Chicago, why do I even need to ask the government for permission to do whatever I need to do to protect my aircraft and to protect the lives of those people who trust me to deliver them to their destination alive.

The pilot knows exactly what is going on inside his aircraft.  It is his ship and he is the Captain.  If we can’t trust him, who can we trust?  The General 1,000 miles away?  The 22-year-old F-16 pilot?  Give the gun to the airline pilot.  It is his ship.  He knows exactly what’s going on.  He knows exactly what needs to be done.  He knows how to shoot.

Arm The Pilots - Now.

That's the way I see it.


May 4, 2002

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