July 12, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 303

Six Shooters In The Sky
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, July 12--There's a sheriff in the sky--about 35,000 feet high.  He's the pilot, armed and ready to shoot the bad guy.

         This Wednesday, July 10, Congress passed a bill 311votes to 113 votes allowing airline pilots to be deputized as federal flight deck officers and carry guns during flights.   The bill specified that guns were to be used only in the cockpit.
         "Guns used only in the cockpit....????"
         Let's see, if I get this one right, a Terrorist rushes into the cockpit with a box cutter.  The pilot turns and draws his gun.   The Terrorist backs out of the cockpit, grabs a passenger or stewardess and holds the box cutter to his victim's throat.   The pilot has a clear shot at the Terrorist's head, but the Terrorist is no longer in the cockpit.  Just an inch outside it.   Dilemma!   Dilemma!
        I find the bill a little disturbing.    Pilots carrying guns?   To be used only in the cockpit?
        It seems to me a Terrorist boarding a plane knowing a gun is on board would slather about the mouth in excitement.    Not that Terrorists need guns anyway.   A ladies hat pin would work just as well as a box cutter when threatened to be shoved through someone's eye into the brain, as would a sharpened piece of wood, or, a vial of acid.
       But now, a Terrorist knows a gun is aboard.   A weapon.   Instead of a threat, the gun may be an invitation.
       Interestingly, I didn't hear much about the vault-like door between the captain and the passengers....the anti-Terrorism gate.   It seems that all one needs to do is push a button and the door is locked and can't be opened until the plane lands.    That seems so much easier a solution.

      I'm just not a big fan of putting weapons at the easy disposal of Terrorists.   Most cops will tell you the majority of shootings during the commission of a crime result from the bad guy taking the gun from his proposed victim.    Unless one's primary job is shooting people, a gun is more of a danger than a threat.
     Our younger daughter carries a loaded weapon when she flies.  As a federal agent, she's required to keep her firearm at the ready, even on flights.   But she's a little different.  Every day her mission in life is to capture the bad guys, and pulling out her gun is a regular business. 
      Pilots have a different mission--passenger safety--getting the plane up and down safely, on-time, sans collisions with other planes.

      Asking a pilot to switch from captain of the ship to sergeant at arms in the blink of a an eye seems pretty radical to me.  I'd rather see the doors shut to the cabin and stay locked until the plane descended.   I just can't imagine a pilot being able to outdraw a Terrorist, and, the old rule applies, whomever shoots first wins.
      Vigilance is not a synonym for "vigilante."  It seems to me the Airline Pilots Association, major promoters of the bill, would be lobbying for "quick shut" doors rather than guns in the cockpit.     Even if someone pushed the button in error and the plane sealed shut and dived for the nearest airport, and later the passengers found it was only false Terrorist alert,  no one would mind.

      Yesterday I walked past a local Lower East Side hospital and clinic.   A big bomb scare emptied the building.  FDNY and police swarmed the area, only to find there was no bomb.  No one complained.  Vigilance of that order was far more effective than giving bomb-sniffing dogs to the interns, nurses and doctors.    Dialing 911 is a lot easier than trying to be a police or fireman, specializing in his her art.
       As a Citizen of Vigilance, I opt for getting those security doors installed between captain and cabin.  At the first hint of  a Terrorist, one of the crew members punches the alarm, like those in banks.   The cabin doors to the cockpit automatically shut.  The plane beams a Terrorist Landing Call, and is routed to the nearest airport.
       That makes it simple.   Pilots don't have to shoot anyone.   They just have to fly their planes.   
       Be Vigilant--root for the Anti-Terrorism Cockpit Door today.

Go To July 11--The Seven Million Year Old "Child Of Vigilance"

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