People who think they’re the only
ones in the world with the right idea are scary. I’m one of
them, but I hope my calm and my logic will ease your fears! Actually,
I don’t think I’m the only one in the world who gets
it right. To be precise, I’ve simply never read, heard, or
heard tell of anybody ELSE who gets it right.
What I’m convinced
I’ve got right is the argument about guns in the cockpit.
Somebody big up there
in authority doesn’t want guns in the cockpit.
Shortly after 9/11
it seemed the entire nation rose in standing applause to the notion
that pilots should be armed. Despite that overwhelming consensus,
the program to arm pilots of our passenger planes seems to have
started out weak and gradually tapered off.
A bureaucratic obstacle
course was erected that had pilots, willing and eager to bear arms,
walking away in disgust. Requirements suddenly descended from who-knows-where
for training and background checks even for pilots who were trained
in firearms in the military, had handled firearms for decades, and
had breezed through multiple background checks -- military and airline
The argument up to
now may not have resulted in many cockpits defended by firearms,
but at least it’s given me additional respect for Ann Coulter.
Some abysmally clueless official trashed the idea of guns in the
hands of pilots saying, “Oh, no. Pilots shouldn’t have
guns. It’s not their job to have guns. It’s the pilot’s
job to fly the plane safely to its destination.”
Which prompted Miss
Coulter to say, “That’s like saying a woman shouldn’t
have any defense against a rapist. It’s not her job to defend
herself against rape,” said Lady Ann... “It’s
her job just to get safely home!”
The argument most frequently
and promptly mounted against pilots having guns is the obvious one
that guns are dangerous; and a shootout in a space as cramped as
a cockpit can lead to an armed pilot accidentally killing a co-pilot
instead of a terrorist; a co-pilot killing a pilot as WELL as a
terrorist, a pilot and co-pilot killing each other INSTEAD of a
terrorist, an escalation into the main cabin of the plane causing
the killing of passengers, the puncturing of the skin of the airplane
leading to depressurization and disaster; and at least a dozen alternative
causeways to a crash.
Every bit of that is
true, but -- HELLO -- while true, every bit of that is the strongest
argument, not against, but in FAVOR of guns in the cockpit!
Yes. The strong possibility
of disastrous chaos if pilots carry guns does not serve THEIR argument
against guns. It serves MY argument FOR guns.
At least here I can
mount my case without interruption; something not always guaranteed
in radio and TV debate.
boy in the sandlot with a football and a few friends is, let’s
agree, a “football player.” Likewise the members of
the professional football team that wins the Superbowl are all quite
properly considered “football players.” All football
players are not equal. It’s easy to measure the degrees of
expertise and proficiency separating the sandlot scrimmagers from
the Superbowl victors. Sure, they’re all “football players,”
alright; but which are more plentiful and easier to come by?
Sandlot players are
many; even limitless. Pro-ball players at the top of their game
are quite a bit harder to come by. Now let’s turn the page
The teenage Palestinian
boy or girl who straps a bomb around the waist is a “terrorist.”
The box-cutter-wielding adult who commandeers an airplane and takes
the controls and flies into a target building is also a “terrorist.”
But Jihadists have
a lot less trouble finding those “sandlot” terrorists
who just have to dress up in a bomb and push the button when they
reach the spot where they think that they can kill the most Jews.
That kind of terrorist also requires very little money, little training,
little secretive messaging back and forth on cell phones from Germany
and elsewhere, and little lost if the child-bomber happens to blow
it and kill nobody but himself.
On the other hand,
recruiting and training airplane hijackers willing and able to smuggle
box cutters or some equally effective substitute aboard a passenger
plane today and commandeer that plane and fly it into a pre-planned
target; that kind of performance calls for a proficiency much closer
to a Superbowl than a sand lot. 9/11 proved terrorists could come
up with such operatives, but there’s probably not much “depth
on the bench.” The terrorists probably lack a deep pool of
similarly trained and willing personnel waiting for the chance to
show their skill, their mettle, and their evil.
The terrorists, therefore,
don’t want a “Let’s-Roll-Pennsylvania-type”
crash anymore than we do. They don’t want to waste “human
resources” scorching shrubbery in a vacant field. Or even,
with a slightly luckier crash site, killing a handful of Americans
in a trailer park or a housing development.
The terrorists want
to have the plane hit dead amidships on a World Trade Center, a
Pentagon, a Capitol Building, a White House; name it.
Every pick-up artist
knows it’s wiser to hit on the single woman at the bar rather
than the woman who, no matter how attractive, has a fierce-looking
guy at her side who, armed or unarmed, seems to like her as much
as the predator does. Americans revere the heroic passengers who
rise up to thwart the terrorist attempt to commandeer the plane
resulting in a crash. There’s no evidence the Al-Qaeda-sympathizing
folks share any such enthusiasm for their “martyrs”
who try to hijack a plane and fail. They prefer the successful ones.
So, the terrible and
terribly likely consequences of a cockpit shootout horrify all who
know what can go wrong when guns are drawn and fired. The sweet-spot
here is: THE TERRORISTS DON’T WANT THAT OUTCOME EITHER!
They’re not going
to risk losing a team, not of “sandlot Jihadists,” but
of trained and well-financed 9/11 types trying to take over a cockpit
featuring armed pilots.
The sensible policy
then is to knock down all those bureaucratic hurdles and make it
easy for all pilots to be armed. Do more than that. Enact TV news
producer Ted Kavanau’s idea of letting all American policemen
fly free of charge provided they carry their guns with them. Extend
that to all other American officials authorized to carry firearms.
You know how certain
homes in areas protected by a security service with a good reputation
hang out the warning decal of that service even if that particular
home is NOT so protected. Good idea. Project the notion that we
now have 100 percent armed cockpits, even as we speed to reach that
level. And let the terrorists wonder how many policemen carrying
arms, air marshals, and others happen to be on the flight they’d
like to snatch.
If Osama bin Laden
had the wisdom of Donald Trump, he would take the measure of any
Jihadist who suggested a repeat of 9/11 in a universally-armed-cockpit
America and say, “You’re Fired!”
[For more information
on the Armed Pilot program see the Airline
Pilots Security Alliance]