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April 18, 2002

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if those terrorists armed with box knives and razor blades had broken into the cockpit only to find a couple of pistols pointed in their faces? If the pilot and flight crew associations have their way that just might be the case the next time someone tries to take over an airplane. Hijackers beware - pilots already have been given the right to carry firearms in the cockpit in the Transportation Security Act passed last fall by Congress. However, the act also mandated that such action must be approved by the federal Department of Transportation.

Currently both Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge are on record in opposition to arming pilots, in essence blocking the issue. Of course neither of them have to worry about some fanatic breaking into their office, killing them and then taking the lives of the hundreds of other people whose lives a pilot is responsible for. What is the problem with letting pilots carry firearms? If they want to hurt someone they have a much larger, more volatile weapon in their hands than a simple handgun. We've seen what kind of damage a plane crash can do. We trust these people with that power, why not allow them an advantage over possible hijackers? We don't expect other security guards to do their work unarmed, so why should we prevent pilots the opportunity to serve and protect as well?

If a terrorist or would-be hijacker is capable of overpowering the pilots and taking their guns away, he surely is capable of doing a similar job to take control of the plane when the pilots are unarmed. If I was a pilot I would consider this a slap in the face. The only reason not to allow pilots to carry a firearm is because the people in charge do not trust the pilots. Put the people through the appropriate training, make sure there is as safe an environment as possible and then turn these folks loose to make all us feel a lot safer when flying the friendly skies.

I discussed this issue with one of my friends, who is big into gun control. As I tried to convince him this was a good idea, he sarcastically suggested having the stewardesses stand at the plane entrance with baskets of guns handing each traveler a firearm along with their bag of peanuts. I told him they would have to eliminate alcoholic beverages from the menu but it would probably keep that kid sitting behind you from kicking the back of your seat all the way to California. Okay so maybe that's not such a good idea, but ultimately it would not surprise me to see concealed weapons and carrying rights laws get more support because of these national security issues.

If you are in favor of arming the national airline pilots you can sign a petition at the Allied Pilots Association website at http://www.alliedpilots.org/.


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