Terrorism: June 28, 2002


Debate continues to rage over the issue of airline pilots carrying guns. While the pilots continue to demand this and the Bush Administration continues to refuse (and Congress continues to threaten to order the guns into the cockpits), some key points are getting lost. Certainly, at the point a hijacker starts forcing his way through the cockpit doors, having a gun that the pilots can reach is a final and definitive defensive statement. The problem is what happens to the 99.99% of such pistols that are never called upon for such duty? This is why the Bush Administration does not want guns in airliners (except in the possession of undercover sky marshals). Thousands of guns inside the security gates create no end of nightmares for security forces. If they are locked in a strongbox inside the cockpit, any mechanic with a couple of heavy tools could get into one, and so could a terrorist. If pilots carry the weapons in shoulder holsters, any terrorist who walked through security without a gun need only bushwhack a uniformed pilot to get hold of a weapon. Hundreds of pistols in a given airport, regardless of the security, is (the Bush Administration fears) an accident waiting to happen. Pilots are not trained policemen or soldiers and, sooner or later, one of them will leave a pistol somewhere unattended, or will accidentally discharge one.--Stephen V Cole


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