THE U.S. GOVERNMENT'S REFUSAL TO ARM AIRLINE PILOTS:
HYPOCRITICAL POSTERIOR PROTECTING
By Norman Turner
The reasons given for this denial of a most fundamental security measure are ignorant and "politically correct," knee-jerk cliches to ward off criticism from the radical Left.
"Pilots need to concentrate on flying the plane," said Magaw. "Specially trained air marshals should be the only armed officers on board," he bleated, displaying an abysmal ignorance of the true state of the problem that resulted in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
First of all, only a few flights have air marshals aboard now, and anyone who believes that all flights will be so provided in the reasonable future is deluded. Secondly, an air marshal has limited ability to protect the cockpit from the passerger cabin.
U.S. Senator Ernest Hollings, in an amazing display of naivete and abysmal ignorance, stated that guns would not be needed as long as pilots kept cockpit doors locked while in flight. I flew commercially a week or so ago and was seated far enough forward to afford an unobstructed view of the cockpit door.
The flight attendant entered the cockpit several times, perhaps using a key, but she did not knock and wait for the pilot to get up and open the door for her. I could have easily moved forward and entered with her. One of the pilots left the cockpit at one point to visit the toilet. He appeared to use a key to reenter the cockpit. I could have easily approached him from the rear and stabbed him in the back with a carbon filter knife, or some other such weapon undetectable by the magnetometer, and entered over his collapsing body. This was the the situation a week or so ago. Who would have stopped me? Senator Hollings? If there was an air marshal aboard, he was seated hehind me and would have had no chance to stop me. I would have appeared to be headed for the forward toilet, just behind the cockpit.
Opponents of this reasonable request for means to protect the flight deck express the equally naive mantra that reinforced cockpit doors mean that pistols are unnecessary. What hogwash! On the flights I was on, there was a visible mesh covering on the door, which meant that it would be difficult to break through.
However, in the action I imagined a terrorist taking, he would have been through the door while it was open, as it is a number of times on every single flight. If he had an accomplice, they both would have been inside the cockpit and the armored door would serve to keep any help out while they killed the unarmed pilots and took over the plane.
Another knee-jerk "concern" about arming pilots is that "an errant shot might hit a passenger or damage a key electrical system on the plane." Give me a break! What are we talking about here? Do you imagine that, in the September 11 situation, an "errant shot by a pilot would have been a consideration. Consider what the alternatives are and under what conditions the pilots would be using their weapons, should they be allowed to have them.
And what are the alternatives and fall back positions that the federal bureaucrats take to protect the American public? The primary action is to scranble fighters, F-15s or F-16s, most often flown by National Guard or Reserve pilots. Many, if not most, of these pilots are airline pilots in their primary jobs. In their secondary jobs as National Guard and Reserve fighter pilots, they are tasked to shoot down any airliner which has been commandeered by hijackers.
Can you imagine a more ironic situation? The fighter pilot, who is not to be entrusted with a .38 caliber pistol while flying his airliner, is tasked to shoot down an airliner and kill all aboard, in his secondary job, and all because the pilots in the airline cockpit could not defend it.
The only obvious advantage to the decision taken by the federal bureaucrats tasked to defend us is that they would be protected from lawsuits by litigious "victims," should anyone be injured in an attempt to defend the cockpit with a pistol. If a fighter shoots down the undefended airliner, they can hide behind a regretful position that "every step was taken and that the airliner and the 'heroes' aboard died for the greater good of the country."
What a sad and disgraceful situation, and all for lack of a little common sense and courage.
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