10/01 VPC Ignores “Gun Crisis”

Violence Policy Center Ignores “Gun Crisis” Caused By Unarmed Pilots
Larry Pratt

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) is one more anti-gun, anti-self-defense, anti-Second Amendment organization that is brain-dead when it comes to any real solutions as to how to prevent the kind of murderous terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

In a column in USA Today (9/27/2001), VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand makes several arguments as to why pilots should not be armed. None of her reasons are compelling; some of them are just silly.

Argument: For openers, Rand says the call to arm pilots has “a disturbingly familiar ring — reminiscent of cries to arm school teachers following the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.” She notes, thankfully, that the idea of “handgun-toting teachers” lost out to “common sense and public safety.”

Reply: Had teachers at Columbine High, or any school personnel, been toting handguns, and knew how to use them, it is “common sense” to assume that there would have been no massacre. For example, in 1997, in Pearl, Mississippi, at the local high school, a student, Luke Woodham, murdered two students and wounded seven others. During this carnage, Assistant Principal Joel Myrick got a handgun from his truck. He blocked a road as Woodham was on his way to murder other students. Woodham was ordered to the ground at gunpoint until police arrived. Myrick has said he has no doubt Woodham would have murdered more people had he not been stopped since he had 36 rounds of ammunition in his pocket when he was finally subdued.

Argument: Rand says: “A handgun on every plane would mean that the weapon, by definition, would be potentially available to every passenger: from terrorists to unruly or suicidal passengers.”

Reply: But what about what happened on September 11? Since none of the pilots and none of the passengers were armed, on the planes that were crashed, these planes were — not “potentially” but, alas, actually — available to terrorists!

Argument: Rand says it is an “unrealistic” scenario to think that criminals would “meekly surrender” at “the mere sight of a gun.” Surrender?! We’re not talking here about merely brandishing a weapon. If pilots and/or passengers had guns, and terrorists tried to hijack their plane, the plan would be to shoot them dead.

Argument: Rand says experience teaches us that when police fire their weapons, “they sometimes make mistakes in deciding when deadly force is justified. It is naiive to believe that pilots will fare any better.”

Reply: Nonsense! When an obvious terrorist is trying to hijack a plane, this is not an ambiguous situation. Not at all. Thus, every time a hijacker tries to seize a plane, deadly force would be justified and should be used, quickly.

Argument: Rand worries that another “serious threat” of having armed pilots would be the “unintentional discharge” of a handgun. Many such guns can fire “when dropped or bumped.” Thus, a bullet could damage key flight controls, injure a fellow pilot or pierce the hull of the plane.

Reply: But, again: What about what happened on September 11?! On this horrible day in American history, the Rand Plan was in effect: No pilots, no passengers had guns. The result? Terrorist hijackers were able to a lot worse things than damage key flight controls, injure a fellow pilot or pierce the hull of the planes. They were able to crash the planes murdering thousands of innocent people!

Argument: Rand says many things can be done to protect pilots and passengers “short of arming pilots.” For example, “dramatically improving screening on the ground and reinforcing cockpit doors in the air.”

Reply: Great. But, this is not an either-or situation. What Rand suggests should be done and pilots should be armed.

Argument: Rand sneeringly dismisses the idea of “making flight crews SWAT teams in the sky.” She cringes at the notion of “pinning our hopes on shootouts at 30,000 feet.”

Reply: Easy for her to say since she wasn’t on any of the four planes crashed by terrorist hijackers. But, I’ll bet that all of the passengers and pilots murdered on these planes would have welcomed the presence of a “SWAT team” on their respective planes. They would have welcomed a “shootout” at 30,000 feet, or at any altitude, because such a shootout would have meant they would have had a least a chance of survival.

The Violence Policy Center’s Web page says: “America is in a gun crisis,” that the VPC is “working to stem the tide of firearms violence engulfing the nation.” But, of course, America is not in a “gun crisis.” The rate of crimes committed with guns has been declining for years.

In one sense, however, there has been a “gun crisis.” This “gun crisis” occurred on September 11. And the “gun crisis” was that none of the pilots or passengers on the four planes crashed by terrorist hijackers had guns. And it’s shameful and a disgrace that the Violence Policy Center wants to perpetuate this “gun crisis.”