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Armed Passengers On Aircraft Will Not Increase
Air Rage Dangers

by Annie

September 26, 2001 -- As many are now aware, the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) has requested legislation that would allow pilots to carry firearms on board an aircraft.  It’s an excellent first step in allowing private citizens to take part in their own protection when flying the “friendly skies.”  But it is only a first step.  ALPA does not support the same right of self-defense for airline passengers.  The reason: Air Rage.  According to John Mazor, media representative for ALPA: “ … a passenger going through air rage with a loaded weapon may only add to the danger in such situations". [i]

I respectfully disagree.  Citing air rage as a reason to continue the ban on privately owned guns aboard aircraft is akin to citing high crime rates as a reason to oppose gun ownership on the ground.  These are the false and misleading arguments that have been put forth by anti-rights, anti-self-defense advocates for years.  Statistics show that crime is reduced when law-abiding citizens are allowed to possess firearms, and I see no reason why an airplane would be immune to that same result.  Most people would agree that air rage would diminish significantly if passengers knew there was an armed air marshal on board, whether uniformed or in plain clothes.  Likewise, it would also seem that the same result would be obtained if the potential "rager" knew there might possibly be armed citizens on board to subdue and hold him. 

Furthermore, although I applaud pilots for demanding the right to protect themselves and their aircraft and fully support their efforts, the idea of an armed confrontation on the flight deck of an aircraft is not one that gives me peace of mind or a sense of safety. 

There is no valid reason to unilaterally conclude that a weapon in the hands of an ordinary, yet competently trained, individual poses a danger to the occupants of an airplane.  There is no reason to assume that allowing qualified individuals to carry a firearm on an aircraft will lead to a more potent danger in an air rage situation.  In fact, we should assume exactly the opposite.  CCW holders are among the most law-abiding segment of our population and I have yet to hear of any one of them using a firearm in a fit of rage. 

Please don't misunderstand, however.  I do not advocate letting every Tom, Dick and Harry carry a gun on a plane, even if they do have such a permit. Obviously, the confined area of an aircraft and other factors, such as the type of ammunition used, has to be considered.  The training required by most states to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon does not require the holder to possess the expertise necessary to use a firearm on an aircraft.  There are, however, thousands of ordinary citizens who have the skills and knowledge to safely carry a weapon onboard an airplane.  They include active and former military, active and former law enforcement personnel and many ordinary citizens that have had more training and experience with firearms than many of their local police.  Knowing that one or more of those individuals, armed with a gun, was also on my flight would give me a much greater sense of safety than the knowledge that the pilot has a gun somewhere behind a locked door and a potential terrorist or other individual knows exactly who has it. 

It has been suggested many times by many people in the past two weeks that an "Aircraft CCW" permit be issued to those who can pass a rigorous background check and appropriate training.  I personally know several highly qualified individuals who would be extremely competent in the protection of themselves and other passengers were they allowed to carry a gun on an aircraft.  They would gladly submit to the necessary background checks and training AND would pay for the training themselves.  They, like you and I, love this country, are true Americans –- patriots -- and would jump at the chance to help make our skies safe and protect innocent lives. 

Unfortunately, certain groups and individuals in this country have done an excellent job of demonizing gun owners to the point that the average American thinks we are all trigger happy Rambo wannabes.  Apparently the Airline Pilot’s Association has also fallen for this gross misrepresentation of law-abiding citizens.  It is shameful that our leaders cannot now call upon these qualified, freedom-loving Americans at a time when they could be immensely useful in preserving liberty, as our forefathers called upon similar freedom-loving patriots at the birth of our nation.

[i] J. J. Johnson, Rules of Engagement: Eating Humble Pie, As Served by the Airline Pilots (And Dealing with the Current Airline Crisis), Sierra Times, September 25,2001

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