10/01 Let’s Arm Pilots And Passengers Too

Let’s Arm Pilots And Passengers, Too
Larry Pratt

Appearing as a guest on the nationally-syndicated Diane Rehm radio show (9/26/2001), the liberal journalist, Haynes Johnson, a former columnist for the Washington Post, was asked for his reaction to the murderous acts of terrorism of September 11, 2001. He replied, in part, that he was “shocked” that such carnage and destruction could be caused by 19 hijackers “without a handgun.”

Of course. To unimaginative, anti-gun, anti-self-defense Liberals like Johnson, the gun — an inanimate object — is intrinsically evil. To Johnson, handguns just had to have been used by the hijackers on September 11. Except that handguns were not used. Knives and boxcutters were used. Thus, Johnson was “shocked.”

One of the good things that appears to be coming out of the horrible events of September 11, is a sharp change in attitude regarding guns and self-defense, specifically a change in attitude on the part of some concerning the wisdom of allowing pilots and passengers to carry firearms.

On June 28, 1985, the Associated Press quoted Capt. Tom Ashwood, a security specialist for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), as saying: “We’re opposed to sky marshals. We’re opposed to guns in our airplanes whether they are good guns or bad guns” — a truly incredible statement. On June 17, 1986, the AP quoted John Mazor, a spokesman for the ALPA, as saying: “We have a very deep philosophical problem with carrying guns aboard aircraft.”

In a May 10, 1998, editorial, the far-left, pro-gun-control St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper — supporting laws against carrying guns on airplanes — asked: “Have we really reached the point where the only social compact we believe in is a society of armed individuals, all fending for themselves?” On July 6, 1998, on the Talkback Live program on CNN, the host, Steve Bartelstein, said: “Thank goodness there aren’t guns on airlines.” A guest on this show, Pat Friend, International President of the Association For Flight Attendants, said that putting armed guards on planes was “not an issue I’ve ever discussed, nor is it anything that I advocate.” Another guest, David Fuscus, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, said putting armed guards on aircraft was “probably not a very good idea.”

Well, thank God, it looks like, for some folks, this kind of irrational fear of guns — at least on airplanes — is changing.

As reported in the NY Times (9/25/2001), Duane Woerth, president of the ALPA, is now for cockpit crews being allowed (but not required) to carry handguns. And, yes, this is the same Duane Woerth who just days before his current position told a Senate subcommittee that pilots should not be “Sky King and Wyatt Earp at the same time.” And the previously quoted Mr. Mazor now says that although the arming of pilots would be a “radical step” it has the overwhelming support of the ALPA’s 67,000 members.

An article in USA Today (9/25/2001) reports that retired United Airlines pilot David Linsley not only favors the arming of pilots, he also believes passengers should be allowed to bring guns on board. Says Linsley: “Nobody will go into the cockpit facing three guns.”

One of the most courageous and articulate defenses of allowing armed pilots has been made in a letter-to-the-editor of the Wall Street Journal (9/21/2001) by Brad Rohdenburg, a Captain for American Airlines. Noting how “utterly absurd” it is that thousands could be murdered by people with box-cutters, he writes, in part: “I’m told by my airline’s flight office that the FAA feels pilots shouldn’t have weapons because ‘they might be taken away and used.’ Well, what if our airplanes are taken away and used? If we make ourselves helpless, we’ve already done half the terrorist’s work for him.”

Rohdenburg says he’s spoken with other pilots “who have sharpened their belt buckles, screwdrivers, pens, etc., so that they might have a prayer of defending their $30 million jets from guys with boxcutters.” He adds:

    We need a last line of defense to keep hijackers out of the cockpit. Federal agents from even the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education and the Smithsonian Institution are allowed to carry guns on commercial airlines. Why not the pilots who are responsible for the aircraft? Many of us already have better firearms training than that provided to those agencies — and we’re willing to get more at our own expense.

Rohdenburg concludes with a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “If you make yourselves sheep, the wolves will eat you.”

For sure!

Still, amazingly, even now, there are those who do not get it. The previously mentioned Pat Friend says, on the NBC Nightly News (9/25/2001): “I hate the idea that we have to… talk about putting guns on airplanes and arming pilots.” And in this same news report, Daniel Plavin of the Airports Council International says: “I’d be really reluctant to sort of encourage people to be carrying arms on an aircraft.”

Well, what’s the alternative? As Captain Rohdenburg asks in his letter-to-the-editor: When terrorists enter the cockpit, “What are we supposed to do then, hit them with our purses?” No, one answer to the hijacker/terrorist problem is to arms pilots and let passengers with permits carry their guns on board.

Barbara Olson, wife of U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, was one of the passengers who died aboard the American Airlines plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Shortly before this crash, she called her husband on her cell phone and asked: “What should I tell the pilot?” Her husband says: “She was trying to do something.”

Well, God bless Barbara Olson for trying to “do something.” But, what could the pilots on her plane have done? Or any of the pilots on the other planes crashed by the hijackers? None of these pilots were armed. None of their passengers were armed.

But, if the pilots on these crashed planes and/or some of their passengers had been armed, there’s an excellent chance that the end result would have been four planes full of dead terrorist hijackers instead of thousands of innocent, dead people in New York City, Washington DC and in Pennsylvania.