ARM THE COCKPIT
There has been much controversy and discussion relative to the subject of arming Commercial Airline Pilots. Meanwhile,
the clock is ticking on the next assault on America. It won't, most likely, come from the sky this time, but it could. Please
be assured it will come.
We should not arm individual Pilots. We should instead, arm each commercial aircraft used to transport passengers. The
cockpit would have, accessible to both the Pilot and Co-Pilot a handgun, which would be under lock and key or code except
when the aircraft is staffed for flight. There are a number of small portable devices now available to provide this security
and prevent unauthorized persons from gaining control of a firearm.
Obviously, the persons who have access to this handgun will need some basic training in the legal and proper use of weapons.
This is a simple and inexpensive process. I operate a Firearms Training Facility and have offered to provide such training
to any commercial airline Pilot or Co-Pilot, cost free.
The opponents of the provision of firearms aboard aircraft claim the danger to innocent passengers and liability risk to
airlines outweighs any benefits derived from such an idea.
They are wrong, in my opinion, for the following reasons:
The weapons provided in the cockpit area would be only as a last line of defense against persons attempting to take control
of the flight deck of an aircraft. Therefore, the risk to innocent passengers is minimal. The firearm provided should be loaded
with special ammunition called frangible rounds or loads charged with very small pellets that are effective only at short
range. These are appropriately referred to as Rat Shot.
The chance of a shot or shots from a handgun bringing down a commercial airliner is remote or non existent. There are cases
in which aircraft have continued to fly with much of the cabin ripped away, also planes continue to fly with holes the size
of a doorway ripped into them by cannon fire. Most modern commercial passenger airliners are designed to maintain cabin pressure
even with sizable holes in the exterior covering.
Looking at some of the alternatives thus far proposed:
Hiring of more air Marshals. It would require many thousand of these folks, (possibly as many as forty thousand) to provide
coverage of just one Marshal per daily commercial flight. This is not likely to happen any time soon, if at all.
Fortifying cockpits. Too expensive, and not practical, because without a separate outside entrance for flight deck crew,
there is always a time when this inner door can be breached. For example, when nature calls, as food is passed through or
when enough force is brought to bear to collapse the door structure.
Alternative non-lethal weapons. Most require you to have direct contact with your adversary. This can be hazardous to your
health. Some shoot twin barbs attached to wires. These may be defeated with a coat or blanket held at arm length.
Over the long term, better hiring, screening and training of airport security personnel is a good idea. Over the short
term, a better plan is to allow all current and retired Police Officers to carry their side arms with them whenever they fly.
These people are trained to deal with violent criminals. They protect us on the streets why not in the skies?
A major newspaper ran an anti arm the Pilot editorial recently. The closing line in their piece was, The unintended consequences
of arming Pilots would create more risk than safeguards.
If the thousands of innocent people who were burned to death on September 11th in crashes caused by air terrorist armed
with box cutters were by a miracle brought back to life and allowed to vote on the closing line, how much support do you think
that position would receive?
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.
Ken Wilkinson CPP
Chairman, Firearms Committee, National Association of Chiefs of Police