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TeeEye7
09-25-2001, 08:23 AM
I just saw a news story where the commercial pilots' union wants its members to be allowed to carry guns in the cockpit on commerical airlines.

As I have just seen this, I really have to think about this one.

My first reaction is what qualifications do the pilots have to carry a firearm (training, background checks, possible legal problems that would disqualify them from carrying)? Also, how would firearms be secured? Just having them onboard makes their accessability possible by unauthorized personnel when before there were none.

I know they are concerned about their safety (as well as the passengers' I should hope) but I'm not so sure at this point that this is the answer to the problem. I'm not sure what the remedy is. I know I'd rather have a Delta Force/SEAL/SWAT type-trained person onboard to make me feel at ease. The pilots will not be so trained nor certified. Many pilots are ex-military (I worked for American Airlines years ago and are familiar with the make up of the flight crews) but I don't that necessarily makes them qualified to carry.

I have worked in law enforcement for the past 16 years and believe very strongly in a person's right to self-defense. But the environment of an airplane at 40,000 feet creates an unique senario that contains its own set of special circumstances. I hope the FAA really takes a long, hard look at this one. Maybe it's time to mass-hire more qualified individuals into the Sky Marshalls ranks. I just dunno.

This is making me pause for some serious reflection.

Other thoughts?

Rollo Tomassi
09-25-2001, 08:49 AM
I was thinking if they DO decide to allow guns in the cockpit, DON'T make it publicly known. Then the terrorists will have the advantage again. Knowledge of our policies and procedures is one of their greatest weapons.

JediTricks
09-25-2001, 09:11 AM
I think it's just not a good idea, for these reasons:
The pilot should be concentrating on the danged flying.
Handguns can be taken away from a pilot and put into the hand of an attacker.
A bullet fired from a gun can pierce the cabin of the plane causing explosive decompression which can cause the plane to lose control and crash.
Sorry, but this idea doesn't work for me. I know tension in the cabin is really high right now, but this isn't the answer. IMO, the cockpit should be completely sealed from the rest of the plane once takeoff procedures have started until the plane has landed and powered down, the cockpit crew should have 100% video access to the plane, and if they see something going on, they could release a silent odorless sleep-gas into the cabin, then when everybody is knocked-out, land the plane and have the cops come in and lock up the attackers -- you can even use the video footage from the plane's monitors as evidence in court.

bigbarada
09-25-2001, 09:30 AM
Sleeping gas is a good idea, tasers might work too.

The only problem with the pilot carrying a gun is they are usually the last to know if a plane is being hijacked. However, if they are to allow pilots, stewardesses, marshals, whoever on a plane to carry a gun then make it publicly known, an excellent deterrant. One of the main reasons planes get hijacked so much is the terrorists know there will be no resistance, thus they act with impunity. Knowing there are trained, armed personnel on the flight might discourage a few hijackings.

I think the same idea would work for the rash of school shootings that has plagued our country for the last few years. Allow the teachers to carry handguns, or have armed security guards patroling the hallway. If a (cowardly scumbag) kid brandishes a gun in school then shoot the kid immediately; the idea being if a kid is willing to endanger other lives due to his/her own mental deficinecies then their life is forfeit. I bet shool shootings would come to a halt within weeks.

These may sound a little heavy-handed but we're not living in Disneyland here. It's an ugly world that demands ugly solutions.

JediTricks
09-25-2001, 10:06 AM
Disneyland is a virtually-perfect Fascist environment, and it's the perfection of fascism at the Mouse House that keeps incidences like those you find at Six Flags Magic Mountain from happening at Disneyland. When Magic Mountain tries to curtail violence, they simply use racial profiling which doesn't work and gets them into trouble, when Disneyland does it, they use cameras, a trained private police and investigative force, and other methods they don't disclose. IIRC, the last incident of violence at Disneyland was like 10 years ago and was a shooting from the street outside Disneyland into one of the monorail cars that rides next to and above that street. However, fascism comes at a cost of personal freedoms, and is very expensive to keep running smoothly.

That ultimately is where the rub lies, personal freedom and how much you're willing to give away to feel safe.

bigbarada
09-25-2001, 10:13 AM
Freedom. Probably the most unsafe idea ever.

I don't favor turning to a gun-toting, might-makes-right society; but remove all methods for people to defend themselves and you leave the door open for anyone to walk in and take control. (which I think was the point GL was trying to make in showing Naboo being overtaken so easily) So a happy medium needs to be found somewhere. The real question is, should politicians who care little for anything other than their own personal gain and wealth be the ones making those decisions?

JediCole
09-25-2001, 11:10 AM
I am pleased to see that the forces of reason are sounding off on this issue. This country is often enamoured of the gun. It's mere presence lends a sense of (false) security in the minds of many Americans. I'm sure we've all heard the arguements of those who buy into this way of thinking in regard to a mugging or bank robbery on the news, "If I was there with my gun I'd shoot the scumbag!" As JediTricks pointed out in regard to taking potshots on board an airplane, exposive decompression is a giant risk. Thought through, there are equal risks and liabilities involved with untrained individuals using the gun as the answer to potential violence, as in the case of a robbery. I say untrained in reference to handling a crisis situation, not in the use of the firearm. Many people who carry guns are trained, and perhaps even practice regularly on a firing range. But how many train themselves to confront an erratic target in a situation in which many are at risk. Guns in the cockpit are about as good an idea as a gun in the nightstand of a suburban family home full of kids of varied ages. Increase the instance of Air Marshals as these operatives are trained in the use of firearms in the unique conditions aboard an in-flight aircraft.

El Chuxter
09-25-2001, 01:36 PM
If every person who could possibly be endangered by others were given the right to carry weapons and the right to use those weapons, we'd live in anarchy. I think only trained law enforcement and military personnel should carry guns for any purpose other than hunting or defense within one's home.

As for teachers carrying guns in schools--I'm not going to even start commenting on that because I'd be typing for several days.

Jedi Clint
09-25-2001, 02:45 PM
Making the cabin more secure sounds like a good idea to me one way or the other. Cabin decompression seems to be the most serious issue in this debate. Jedi Tricks suggestion of allowing the cabin to monitor the passenger compartment, and emit a knock-out gas sounds very reasonable. I can only see one problem with this. If the hijackers had a way of breathing in such an environment, it would only prevent passengers from fighting back. Allowing the pilot to carry a taser/stun gun sounds like a reasonable alternative as well. I am not against a pilot who is well trained in the use of a fire arm being allowed to carry one. I also don't think that air marshals sound like a bad idea. Security should start on the ground though. If you want to kill or threaten someone (obviously) all you need is a (plastic) shiv/knife (whether you are in school, in a plane, on a bus, etc). Traveling by plane will never be the same again.

bigbarada
09-25-2001, 02:49 PM
Another problem with sleeping gas is passengers with asthma or any trouble breathing. Plus sleeping gas on young children and babies can result in death. I know tear gas on young kids can cause muscle spasms severe enough to tear muscle tissue away from the bone. The FBI learned that in Waco.

Jedi Clint
09-25-2001, 04:11 PM
Appearantly there exists a type of bullet that will pentrate a human body, but not the panels that compose the hull of an airplane preventing explosive decompression.

JediCole
09-25-2001, 04:34 PM
Another aspect of this discourse that has yet to be addressed is that of the threat potential of a gun. Take for example a police officer pulling over a suspect at gun point. Chances are the suspect does not want to die and will comply. An armed pilot is not up against someone who thinks in a conventional way. The hijackers in the recent tragedy were prepared to die, in fact their actions indicate that they could not wait to die for their cause. What threat is a pistol brandished against a foe who intends to die. In the event of two or more hijackers, one would be more than willing to take the bullet so his companions could then overpower the flight crew, despite being armed. And though a pilot may have a gun and perhaps even training in its use, how many pilots went into avaition with the thought of ever having to take a life? A police officer (or even an air marshal) knows that is always a possibility. Most airline pilots did not choose their profession with that in mind. Remember, the perpetrators of this attack were not your "Take this plane to Cuba" political dissident types. These were fanatics of deadly earnest. I am not saying that we should just let such people freely put us at risk in the air, but the idea that the presence of a gun in the cockpit is somehow a deterrent is at best, misinformed.

bigbarada
09-25-2001, 05:32 PM
That's actually something I hadn't considered. Thanks for the insight, JediCole. Now that I've had most of the day to ponder this, I've realized that having an armed crew member on the plane really will not affect the outcome of a well planned out hijacking. However, most people believe it will and if the airlines are convinced that arming their pilots will bring customers back to the currently devastated airlines then they are going to do it.

I've heard about an auto-pilot program which would constantly be on the lookout for large objects in the flight path of any plane and if the computer deemed it was on a collission course with the object it would override all pilot controls and steer the plane to safety. I think this has been around for years but has never been installed due to money concerns. Hopefully, these kinds of programs can soon become mandatory for aircraft.

JediTricks
09-26-2001, 06:23 AM
Originally posted by El Chuxter
If every person who could possibly be endangered by others were given the right to carry weapons and the right to use those weapons, we'd live in anarchy. I think only trained law enforcement and military personnel should carry guns for any purpose other than hunting or defense within one's home.While I'm not keen on the whole "defense within one's home" stuff since normal people use their guns to deter crimes within their homes far less than injuring themselves or their loved ones (not even counting the idiots who get all impulsive and whip out their "self defense" to end arguments and other stuff that doesn't fall under the limits of "reasonable use of lethal force"), but other than that, I heartily agree with ya Chux.


Clint, I can't imagine how attackers could breathe in a sleep-gas-filled atmosphere, but tasers and stun-guns are a lot easier to defend against (as well as use on the person with the taser) than almost anything. A friend once tested my mother's stun gun, we zapped him with it and he said it hurt right until he took it out of our hands. ;) It never did more than annoy him, and he was just wearing a t-shirt and blue jeans, imagine what would happen if someone was wearing a specially-made outfit that could absorb some of the energy (this would NOT be that hard to do, weave fibers into the clothing, maybe connect them to a piece of carbon that would act as a resistor).

I guess we've seen that any weapon can be used against their operators. If we had smart-tagging on guns so they could ONLY be fired by their operators, then I'd change my mind about guns in general (though the whole "explosive decompression" problem still stands with airplanes), but since the NRA has dragged their feet on this and gotten political backing, we don't have this type of weapon.


bigbarada, that is true that some folks may have an alergic reaction to the gas, but you sign away certain rights when you buy a ticket for a plane anyway, and obviously hijacking is now a threat to more than just the passengers, so perhaps those who may be affected by such a thing should take a train or a boat. I'm asthmatic, but sleeping gas doesn't affect my asthma (though there is a VERY small chance of heart flutter involved), so since only a small amount of folks would be affected by this technique and it certainly wouldn't be used that often, I think the risk would be negligble. We're not talking about tear gas, tear gas is a very offensive weapon, sleeping gas is not the same at all. Tear Gas includes many actively-toxic chemicals designed to irritate the eyes.


Clint, the "soft-nose" bullet is not as effective against human attackers, and yet still might be able to pierce the cabin hull if fired at close range.


Cole, you make a good point, anybody who's willing to kill himself will make a perfect human shield against bullets for his fellow attackers. Same with stun guns.

bigbarada
09-26-2001, 09:10 AM
I have a feeling that, after Sep 11, airplanes are going to be much harder to hijack. Up until then, conventional wisdom said that if you cooperated and didn't make a fuss then you would survive. Now once someone even jokes about hijacking a plane all the passengers are going to be instantly reminded of the WTC, and will realize that if they don't act immediately they will probably die and take thousands of other people with them. Overpowering the hijackers by sheer numbers is probably the best defense against terrorists.

Mandalorian Candidat
09-26-2001, 12:05 PM
Guns is cockpits? Holy crap! That thought conjures up the image of some "Tackleberry" type of pilot with an itchy trigger finger and a full metal jacket.

What we really need are security people that are getting actual background checks and that have more than just an 8th grade education. What kind of security do we have when the burger jockeys in the airport cafes are getting paid more than the rent-a-cops?

Jedi Clint
09-26-2001, 03:38 PM
Tricks,

As I said before I believe security should start on the ground, and that the cabin should be secure. I liked the idea you presented about having cameras on the outside of a secure cabin so that pilots could monitor the passenger compartment and make tactical decisions accordingly. Perhaps hijackers could smuggle on containers (composed of a material that doesn't set off metal detectors) of O2, allowing them to breathe during an environmental attack in the passenger compartment. Using that tactic would prevent passengers from overtaking hijackers as well.

:) I once saw a police video of someone being zapped by some sort of stun gun, and they flopped like a fish. Is there a difference between the type of stun gun the police carry and those that are available to the public? Against multiple attackers, stun guns are probably much less effective. Upon further consideration, it doesn't seem like the kind of device that would effectively protect the pilots of an aircraft (it may make them feel safe though).

As far as the "soft-nosed" bullets go. It seems to me that an air marshal trained to use a weapon in such an environment, should be able to use the weapon effectively against attackers. I can imagine that one can be trained to avoid having their weapon taken from them with a reasonable degree of success, but if the weapon were constructed so that only the intended operator could use it, that would eliminate the problem all together.

My opinion remains: secure the cabin, and increase ground security.

After that, if a pilot only feels safe when they are packin' heat, I have no problem with them doing so (although, I would prefer that their weapons were smart-tagged as well). I don't agree with your "home/self defense" appraisal, but that is a separate issue perhaps for another time. :)

master jedi
09-26-2001, 05:49 PM
Guns in cockpits? How do you know the pilot isn't planing to hijack or help hijack the plane in the first place? Or is just angry and wants to take out his anger on somebody.

TeeEye7
09-27-2001, 08:13 AM
Looks like the government is backing away from the pilot's wishes to carry in the cockpit. I'm glad. For all the level-headed reasons stated above. Looks like common sense will prevail.

Odd for the government, isn't it?

;)

bigbarada
09-27-2001, 09:38 AM
Originally posted by master jedi
Guns in cockpits? How do you know the pilot isn't planing to hijack or help hijack the plane in the first place? Or is just angry and wants to take out his anger on somebody.

Ummm, if the pilot wanted to hijack the plane, why would he need a gun? He already has control of the plane! And as for a disgruntled pilot killing passengers, all he has to do is crash the plane. Don't need a gun for that.

JediTricks
09-27-2001, 09:51 AM
Originally posted by Mandalorian Candidat
Guns is cockpits? Holy crap! That thought conjures up the image of some "Tackleberry" type of pilot with an itchy trigger finger and a full metal jacket.You seen the video of the training sessions for the air marshals? Those guys are just blasting away like a Schwarzenegger film! When you yell "down on the ground" and you've fired 3 shots before you get to the word "ground"...


Clint, the news said there's a plan being considered to fortify the door and to give camera feeds that go to the tower (though I'm unclear as to what THAT would be good for). As for smuggling breathing air onto a plane in a non-metal container, it'd have to be really small which means under high pressure and concealed on the hijacker's person, not his carry-on.

The stun guns and tasers the police carry are the same as civilian ones, as I understand. Some people react differently to stun guns than others, but I am quite confident that a person could redirect that type of electrical flow into a small, wearable circuit that would render the stun gun/taser completely worthless, beyond using it as a club.


Ultimately, all this talk is just that, talk. The news is now saying that some of the hijackers may have been wearing pilot uniforms and have been sitting in the cockpit "jump seat". See, fellow pilots fly free in most airlines even when they're not part of the crew, they sit right there in the cockpit. No door is very useful when it's opened from the inside. A thorough change in the way the airlines do business is required for REAL safety (not this phoney stuff we're seeing in the US now).

bigbarada
09-27-2001, 09:54 AM
Most of the changes we're seeing now are knee-jerk reactions. I think the real change will come when the airline industry realizes that the public doesn't trust them anymore.

master jedi
09-27-2001, 11:07 AM
Originally posted by bigbarada


Ummm, if the pilot wanted to hijack the plane, why would he need a gun? He already has control of the plane! And as for a disgruntled pilot killing passengers, all he has to do is crash the plane. Don't need a gun for that.

He needs a gun to get people to do what he wants to do. If he didn't have a gun or any other type of weapon somebody could stop him from hijacking the plane. And if your hijacking a plane it doesn't always mean you're going to crach it.

Jedi Clint
09-27-2001, 04:03 PM
Tricks,

Perhaps the security/law enforcement officials are on the ground advising the pilots, and that (as well as eliminating the need for a black box) is why the feed would be sent to the ground crew.


The stun guns and tasers the police carry are the same as civilian ones, as I understand. Some people react differently to stun guns than others, but I am quite confident that a person could redirect that type of electrical flow into a small, wearable circuit that would render the stun gun/taser completely worthless, beyond using it as a club.

Right on. I don't think they would make very good clubs though ;).

Utinni
09-27-2001, 04:31 PM
I think a gun is a huge over reaction to some cracker with a BOXCUTTER!!! have you ever seen a boxcutter? What a silly weapon. The fact these guys were able to get so far was that they had a BOMB with them, too. If they had shown up with just the boxcutters, they would have been terrorists for about 5.5 seconds. After that, they would have been unconcious idiots. it's going to be next to impossible to get on board airplanes after this. All this talk of what to do after the plane is airborne is hypothetical. The REAl security measures are going to be on the ground.

JediCole
09-27-2001, 05:18 PM
Uttini,
Obviously you've never suffered a wound from a box cutter. And that is a good thing. Sure they are not as imposing as a Crocodile Dundee "That's a knife" Outback hunting model, but they are still a formidable weapon. And if you (the passenger) have just seen a stewardess have her throat slit in front of you, it will probably take the wind out of your overtly heroic sails.
No bomb necessary.
A box cutter may not seem like much, but cold blooded murder and deadly resolve, backed by even a 10" rusty nail, will give one pause when thus confronted. We all like to imagine the heroic scenerios when working class zeros turn into macho, terrorist bashing heroes when confronted with certain doom. Two things you have neglected to remember. Number one, your average buisiness traveler at 8:00 AM is ill eqipped physically and mentally to challenge a highjacker of any type. And the most important factor, one all too often pointed out by those who can see beyond boxcutters as weapons, the simple fact that prior to September 11, 2001, no one in the world would really have imagined that in the case of a highjacking the end result would be a deliberate collision with a building.
So many people seem too quick to retrofit the way of thinking to that of people after the tragedy. Don't dare try to belittle the plight of those on the planes by suggesting that a pack of madmen armed with razor blades is not a scenario that is frightening enough to cement the passengers into their seats.

bigbarada
09-27-2001, 07:01 PM
Originally posted by JediCole
So many people seem too quick to retrofit the way of thinking to that of people after the tragedy. Don't dare try to belittle the plight of those on the planes by suggesting that a pack of madmen armed with razor blades is not a scenario that is frightening enough to cement the passengers into their seats.

I heartily agree, JediCole. I think it's kind of funny how people can watch a couple of action movies and believe themselves to be heroes. The truth is nobody here in these forums, or anywhere for that matter, has any idea how they would react to something like this. The people criticizing the passengers for not stopping the terrorists would probably freeze up in terror the same way many of the passengers did when they watched, or at least heard the stewardesses' throats being slit. It's not like in the movies. My dad is a Vietnam vet and he's seen people die from having their throats slit. It takes a few minutes of that person thrashing about and struggling for air before they die. From the way my dad described it to me, it seems a horrible thing to witness. My dad was in a combat zone when he saw this, a place where you would halfway expect to see terrible deaths. These people were just average citizens going on about their lives, and they were suddenly thrust into a terrible nightmare. And people want to criticize them for not being Rambo? Geez, grow up!

JediTricks
09-28-2001, 08:56 AM
Originally posted by Utinni
The fact these guys were able to get so far was that they had a BOMB with them, too. If they had shown up with just the boxcutters, they would have been terrorists for about 5.5 seconds. After that, they would have been unconcious idiots.Where did you hear they actually had bombs? Everything I've heard suggests they simply had knives and started killing flight attendants in order to get the pilots to come out of the cockpit, and there was one report of a threat of a bomb, but it never was confirmed that they had any explosives, nor that they needed any since the fuel in the wings was clearly more explosive than any bomb they could sneak on board 4 planes.

Cole, you're absolutely right about box cutters, especially when you've taken the safety guards off, they're basically just fortified single-edge razor blades -- unfortunately quite fatal. These evil punks used weapons clearly more powerful and concealable than any bomb - terror and human will, which they used to the obvious maximum horrible effect. And since they had no intention of salvaging the blades after they used them, it didn't matter how bad they treated their knives so they could really use them in most awful ways, the knives were going to be quite sharp for all these sick bastards needed them to be. Plastic knives, shards of mirror glass, heck, even the thin metal housing around the bottom of the seat could be torn away and used as a deadly cutting impliment.

No innocent passenger or crew member is to blame for the terrorist attacks, only the terrorists and those who helped them commit these atrocities.