Skip to comments.Arming The Free: Let Airline Pilots And Passengers Terrorize Thugs
Posted on 10/11/2001 11:47:59 AM PDT by Washingtonian
Investor's Business Daily
October 11, 2001
SECTION: A; Pg. 16
LENGTH: 714 words
HEADLINE: Arming The Free: Let Airline Pilots And Passengers Terrorize Thugs
BYLINE: By JOHN R. LOTT JR. , Investor's Daily
Osama bin Laden gleefully proclaimed on Sunday that Americans are afraid and will remain so until they meet his demands.
Indeed, even after pairing back schedules and cutting fares, U.S. airlines are flying with 50% of their seats empty. After a knife attack last week on a Greyhound bus that is still not linked to terrorism, bus companies are suffering, and asking Congress for a billion-dollar bailout.
How we deal with this fear will determine our economic direction. Placing armed U.S. marshals on planes will help, as it has helped in the past.
But there is reason to doubt that this is enough to protect even planes, let alone buses and all the other possible vulnerable targets.
Yet, even Bush's promise of one marshal on every plane dramatically increases the size of federal law enforcement. To cover the 35,000 to 40,000 daily flights in the U.S. before Sept. 11, more officers will be needed than the 17,000-plus now working for the FBI, Secret Service, and the U.S. marshals' programs combined.
Assuming that we would need about one marshal for every two working pilots implies more than 50,000 marshals.
The attack on Sept. 11 changed many rules for American hijackings. During the 1970's, hijackers trying to get to Cuba typically were operating alone. But bin Laden put five hijackers on each of three planes, and four on another.
Plainclothes marshals have an advantage over terrorists, since the latter don't know which passengers are armed.
But having only one marshal per plane creates the potential for hijackers to reveal themselves in stages. After the marshal reveals himself, hijackers who had remained hidden as passengers could then attack.
One solution is for other people to carry guns. Off-duty and retired federal law enforcement, police, and military frequently travel for pleasure, or work for the airlines.
Al Marchand, age 44, a steward on United Airlines 175, the second plane that crashed into the World Trade Center, retired last year after a 21-year career as a highly decorated police officer. Among his awards were a combat cross, officer of the year and three exceptional duty awards. He also served in the U.S. Army.
Pilots on all four flights that crashed were also former military men. Why couldn't we trust someone like Marchand with a gun?
There are about 600,000 recently active state and local law enforcement officers in the U.S. today, and many travel on vacation. Discount fares could encourage them to fly with their guns.
Bush's proposal to strengthen cockpit doors is helpful, but it doesn't eliminate the need to arm pilots. Doors can be blown open. Terrorists can breach security and obtain the key or code used to open the door. Israel's El Al airline both secures doors and arms pilots, for a reason.
The Greyhound incident also illustrates the general importance of having armed people protect us. Off-duty police officers couldn't legally carry concealed loaded guns on that bus because officers are forbidden from carrying guns across state lines. Just last year, in a 372-to-53 vote, the House of Representatives passed an amendment allowing off-duty police to carry their guns with them wherever they travel in the country, but it failed to get through the Senate.
Rep. Randy Cunningham, R-Calif., is reintroducing the legislation this week.
Another option to guard against terrorist attacks is to encourage more citizens to buy guns. If Americans carried concealed handguns at the same rate as Israelis, over 21 million would have permits.
A few years ago, after a wave of terror attacks, Israel's national Police Chief Yaacov Terner called on all concealed handgun permit holders to carry firearms at all times. Israelis realize that the police simply can't be there all the time to protect people when terrorists attack.
Despite considerable scholarly research that passive behavior is dangerous, docility is becoming ingrained in our culture. The Federal Aviation Agency even forbids pilots to carry nail clippers.
Disarming the law-abiding and not the criminals just increases the likelihood of terror.
John R. Lott Jr. is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of "More Guns, Less Crime" (University of Chicago Press, 2000).
LOAD-DATE: October 11, 2001
Hopefully, our politicians will realize this.
Won't happen. Those with a D- after their name would have to admit that their "common sense" gun laws aren't so common sense anymore, prompting the populace to wonder what else they've grossly miscalculated (like immigration policy).
Still wondering out loud why our Constitutional right to carry a gun stops at the state line. No doubt we have all been scrutinized to our dental records by the FBI to ensure that we can be sanctioned by a state to exercise our rights, so what's the big deal. The game has changed radically, and so should the rules. If I can drive a car anywhere in the U.S. with a license issued by a single state (a state granted privilege, not a right, that requires far less scrutiny), then why can't I do likewise with my personal handgun? I don't see my right to free speech encumbered, yet my right to self protection is. Another thought: if one is trained in the capability of killing someone using some martial art, should they not be similarly prohibited from crossing state lines? What is the difference?
Stay well - stay safe - stay armed - Yorktown
My solution is to give everyone weighing more than 150 pounds and under 60 years of age the option of carrying a good-sized billy club. Couple this with a no alcohol policy on planes. The probability of a billy club being misapplied (i.e. shooting a bystander or depressurizing a cabin) is much lower than that of a gun. But 50 or 100 passengers armed with clubs would be more than a match for a few razor-wielding nuts. This presumes, of course, that screening of luggage and security for baggage and food handlers is effective enough to preclude smuggled firearms.
Then your arguement has been blown out of the water. You can never guarantee that firearms aren't smuggled on board.
If the Air Marshal gets taken out, the terrorist now have his gun. What good is you billy club now? Better to let people who wished to be armed do it.
I think that is what sticks in my craw about the moronic efforts at "airport security". It is the assumption that ALL Americans are the "enemy", and must be "cleared" by some $7.00 an hour welfare-to-work idiot (who may in fact not even speak English, or be an American citizen!)
If you try to "focus" on everyone, you are in fact "focussing" on no-one!
Last week I got on a plane, and had to be searched and wanded like a prison inmate leaving the metal-working shop. (Actually, this was done by an officer who has known me for years- and KNOWS I am not a threat to this country in any way. But the "procedures" are inflexible).
This is going to ruin the airline industry- and the real threat is probably baggage-handlers, catering people, and other poorly-screened folks who have unlimited access to airplanes.
Great point! I once had to use my pistol in another State to repel a couple of motel-room burglars- but, since I was carrying it ILEGALLY according to that State's laws, I was not able to report the incident to the local police. Hell, they would have just arrested ME, confiscated my (expensive) Colt, and done nothing about the real criminals anyway.
True story, by the way. Be careful in motels- they tend to be built on cheap land, on the outskirts of cities- exactly where you find the losers and jailbirds. And a motel room key is the easiest thing in the world to get.
I'd let them carry ANYWHERE.
I agree. Law enforcement isn't going to defend or protect us. Security can fail. Anything can happen.
I'm getting a VERY uncomfortable feeling about how this new security is shaping up. Let's see if I have this right. The Pilots will have weapons. The Sky Marshalls are going to have weapons. The bad guys are going ot have weapons. Even the stews are going to have mace or a tazer.
And the people who are actually PAYING for that flight are supposed to sit there and get slaughtered like sheep!
What's wrong with this picture?
I think Brazil has the right idea. Arm all passengers with light weapons, so EVERYONE has a weapon. A .22 may not be much of a weapon, but enough of them aimed at the same target will take someone down as effectively as a 45 will.
I resent that the government that I work so hard to maintain doesn't think that I can be trusted with a weapon! It takes all of the power of the (Nanny) State to protect me because without such help, I'm helpless. Think of how much more effective those people on flight 93 would have been if they'd had weapons available, instead of having to innovate boiling water weapons on the spur of the moment.
They need weapons and so do the rest of the travelling public. I'll tell these airlines something for free tho. Unless they have SOME way for people to defend themselves, people are NOT going to fly. WHy should we? The penny-pinchers in the airlines obviously put profit over the safety of their passengers, now they have neither security or passengers. Their own fault I'd say.
I'll put myself up against any stinking arab/muslim in the world. I don't need the govt to help protect me and mine! If I die in the process, I can think of few other causes than America to die for: America and OUR American Dream!
Before you answer, consider: Government, formerlly, WAS citizens. Now it is Us versus Them.
Will government ever trust its citizens enough to let them board aircraft with guns? I say "When you-know-where freezes over".
PS Thanks for keeping the oil flowing!
the alternative will be more Boeing cruise missles with passengers aboard.
Stay well - Stay safe - Stay armed - Yorktown
I would not presume to question your personal decision regrading firearms but I ask that you reconsider. Responsible thoughful citizens owning firearms is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty. Shooting is fun besides. If you have children then I would submit that teaching the safe and proper handling of firearms is one of the best things you can do for them.
I thank you for your thoughtful response and I wish you all the best.
Stay well - stay safe - Stay alert - Yorktown
Earlier today, the Senate, via a unanimous consent vote, adopted the Bob Smith (R-NH)/Frank Murkowski (R-AK) amendment to allow airline pilots to carry firearms. The amendment was also cosponsored by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Conrad Burns (R-MT).
The bill now goes to the House. After that, it will probably go to a House-Senate conference to work out the details.
This is an enormous victory for GOA members who lobbied relentlessly to sway reluctant senators.
BUT THE BATTLE IS NOT OVER!
Next week, the House will take up its version of the Aviation Security Bill. A number of congressmen are considering offering amendments to arm pilots, but they must first secure the approval of the House leadership and the House Rules Committee in order to offer any amendment.
ACTION: Please contact House Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Republican Leader Dick Armey, and House Republican Whip Tom DeLay and demand that they allow the House to vote on the armed pilots amendment in connection with the Aviation Security Bill.
Rep. Dennis Hastert
Rep. Dick Armey
No Public E-mail
Rep. Tom DeLay
No Public E-mail
----- Pre-written message -----
Dear Representative __________:
When the Aviation Security Act comes before the House, I hope you will use your leadership position to allow amendments to the bill that would let pilots be armed.
There are plenty of aviation engineers who agree that bullet holes will not cause a massive depressurization in a plane. If depressurization was truly a concern, then why are we even considering putting air marshals on planes? Their bullets will be no different from the ones being used by the pilots. But more to the point, there is no way we can get an air marshal on all 35,000 daily flights.
So the only way to deter these terrorists is to make sure that our last line of defense -- the pilots -- can protect the plane. Reinforcing the cockpit doors is also a good idea, but it's not a panacea. Are we to assume that on a long trip the door will NEVER be opened? That pilots will NEVER take a bathroom break? That there is no one among the flight crew who will ever have the keys or security codes to open the door?
Reinforcing the cockpit doors can help. But the only way to stop terrorism on board aircraft is to let these villains know in advance that, if they ever try to invade the cockpit, they'll be sorry.
Please support language that will allow pilots to be armed, and thus, will enable them to protect the lives of their crewmembers and passengers.