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Guns in Cockpits. I say yes, he says no...

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Let me say upfront, I own no guns, have never owned a gun. I do believe in gun control, registration, and all sorts of other "liberal" ideals. OTOH, I was a military citizen for 15 years, understand that guns are required in todays world, and that those who are properly trained can and do operate them responsibly. Should guns be allowed in cockpits? I say yes. If an ATP can handle a 747, he can probably handle a 9mm with little effort. All military pilots pack heat. IMO, our civilian pilots should too. Makes sense to me. What about you?Anyway, someone in our current administration does not share my views.http://twa800.com/news/wnd-5-27-02.htmCheers,bt

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I steadfastly refuse to board any commercial aircraft in which any of the flight crew is armed.Firstly, lets examine the tactical liabilities. To arm the flight crew would make them easy targets for any terrorists. The crew might just as well wear signs saying, "See this uniform? It means I have a gun." It would be tantamount to wearing a target on your back. Put guns on easily recognized targets in a closed environment, and the terrorists will then have access to firearms while on commercial flights. They'll plan and train (much like they prepared before 9/11) to gain the tactical advantage over the flight crew, kill them, then make use of their captured weapons to control the passengers. This is exactly what we wish to prevent.There is also the issue of proficiency. ATP's train constantly to stay on top of their profession. This training takes vast amounts of time and energy. Tactical weaponcraft also requires much time and energy. Are these ATP's prepared to train in the art and science of tactical weaponcraft? Some of them. Do they understand the amount of time and energy required to become truly proficient with a firearm in a tactical scenario? I don't believe so. And in that there is great danger.Simply carrying a gun does not make one prepared to deal with a threat to life and limb. Nor does occasional training.The real solution is to place armed and extremely well trained plain clothed folks on board our commercial flights. Then the bad guys can only guess which of the passengers are a threat to their dastardly endeavors. This would give the flight crew and passengers the all important tactical advantage. We could call these people... Sky Marshalls!!!!It works for El AL.For the record, I practice my weaponcraft EVERY day of my life. That is my responsibilty as a gun owner and student of the craft. I don't hunt, nor am I associated with any ultra-right wing organizations. I simply wish to be as prepared as possible to defend myself, my family, and any other innocents near me.Regards,

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I agree with Greg. There is a lot to think about when flying a commercial aircraft and the use of a firearm is something best left to someone else. I absolutely agree that weapons must be carried on any commercial flight, but not by the flight crew themselves. Greg is absolutely correct in that providing firemans to an individual who is not proficient in their use is just courting disaster. And I further agree that "ocassional" training or refresher courses in their use are not good enough. If you carry a fireman as a requirement of your profession then you need to be spending a lot of time using it at the practice range and in mock situations.Here in Australia we finally do have "sky marshalls" and they carry those handguns that are supposedly capable of immobilising a person whilst not being able to pierce the fuselage skin of a pressurised aircraft. The fact that these marshalls are "passengers" provides them with the opportunity to concentrate 100% on their job, unlike an armed pilot who really should be concentrating on flying the aircraft.

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Imagine all these pilot's wandering about the termimal! What ripe targets! My motto is, if someone has a firearm, it can be taken and used agains't them! Logisticaly impossable!!!!

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Well I've asked for opinions, and I've gotten them. Here is mine, with some qualification.Two arguments offered against are:a. Ability to gain the weapon from the flight crewb. Proficiency.As to a. I know I said, "...military pilots pack heat." Making my point, as you'll see in a moment, but muddying my position somewhat. No ATP should "pack." The weapon should be stowed in a logical, easy to reach by the flight crew, stowbox. A weapon aboard is only one line of defense. The crew door must be secure and locked. In the event of a hijack, the crew must never give in. They are not to come out and "take down the terrorist", they are to immediately land the plane, but if anyone unauthorized attempts entry into the cockpit, and succeeds in defeating the door, the crew must immediately shoot them dead, stone dead. Simple." And if we are smart, we can never give a hijacker quarter. How can we believe that their desires are political, financial, etc. The DOD has a policy about hijack. The aircraft can never leave the ground. Never. If the security of the weapon while boarding and unboarding is in question, have a armed guard enter prior to and remain at all times while boarding and unbording.As to b., proficiency is not hard. Contrary to myth, most folks who handle firearms professionally, never NEVER, draw their weapon for real use. Rare is a police officer who has fired in the line of duty. I spent 15 years in the military, and never saw action. Even soldiers qualify only annually, and front liners, may practice twice to three times a year at most. The practice required to keep from killing yourself or someone else by accident while the gun is in your hand is minimal, and to hit a target at 6 foot or less is not much more. Any pilot who can land an aircraft on the numbers in minimums at most large airports can handle a piece.So...Do we know if the terrorists of 9/11 could have been stopped by pilots with a piece? Nope. Can we conjecture. Sure. Could it have been any worse. Not that I can see. 4 aircraft overcome by knives and box cutters. BOX CUTTERS. Like I said, seems simple to me. And to many, perhaps a majority of ATPs.Just my opinion, mine only, like yours.

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Braun, you have missed the most important aspect of dealing with the kind of scenario like 9/11. That aspect is tactics, but I'll get to that in a minute.Your point A: Placing the weapon on board.This will play into the terrorist's ops planning just the same as a crew member bringing the weapon on board. If they know there is a weapon on board, and they know it is stowed in a lock box, they will be able to fashion a strategy to gain control of the weapon. They will then train to execute their strategy with swiftness and precision. This solution works no better than the flight crew "packing".Your point B: Flight crew weapons proficiency.I fail to see the logic of this. Just because few professionals never draw their weapon in a real life shooting situation does not mean that anyone who carries needn't poccess a high level of proficiency. Just the opposite. Serious training is indeed a moral imperative. Lack of proficiency could very well mean the loss of innocent lives because of poor tactics in employing the gun. The reality of tactical weaponcraft is that the person using the gun is the weapon, the gun is just the tool. With hundreds (and possibly thousands of lives at stake, such as 9/11) I want the folks carrying the guns on board a commercial flight to be the best of the best. Anyone who fails to take weaponcraft deadly seriously need not apply. Those who simply "qualify" at the range once every three months will only be a liability. A deadly liability.And now for what matters most. Let's create a scenario of a commercial flight carrying, say, 200 passengers. Amongst this number are 4 terrorists, just like 9/11. How will those 4 know which of the 196 passengers are armed? How can they fashion a strategy, and then thoroughly train beforehand to execute that strategy (just like the terrorists of 9/11), if they don't know who and how many are aboard the flight to thwart them? The terrorists of 9/11 were successful for a number a reasons, but the most important reason was that they held the tactical advantage of surprise. By making the terrorists wonder who of our 196 passengers is trained and devoted to stop them we then take the element of surprise from them and place it firmly in our control.Braun, it's not about guns, it's about being better prepared than the bad guys. And the most important part of that preparation is keeping them off balance and making their risk of failure unacceptable to them. Placing a gun on board, whether in a lock box or on the person of a crew member, does nothing to achieve this. And indeed works to the terrorists advantage.Regards, :-beerchug

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Hey Greg! Well this is certainly not the last we will hear about this. There are many more minds than just you and I, debating this topic at this very moment. Both sides are offering well-reasoned and intelligent discourse, just like here. One quick comment about tactical advantage and the issue of gaining access to the gun in a cockpit. Never again can a cockpit be accessible to anyone during flight. Cameras mounted just outside the steel reinforced door to see who is requesting access, and whether they are under duress are not just not a good idea, but mandatory. Concern about the pax must be secondary, the cockpit and crew are the primary concern. If this concept is followed, the issue of obtaining access to the weapon becomes mute.As to your comments about proficiency, I must respectfully disagree. As someone who has qualified in both the M-16 and the Ruger 9MM, in my opinion one well taught initial course, followed by annual or semi annual should be enough to insure that weaponeer can put a round in the bull

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Well Braun, it seems we are destined to disagree on this issue. My years of weapons and tactics training tell me that guns at the reach of flight crew personel brings with it a high possibility of disaster. And that is not meant to be disrespectful to the fine people who fly us around the world.As for the Micro Brew, have a virtual one on me. :-lol Hope it's not as hot up in your neck of the woods. Here in the central CA valley we've been baking the last couple of days. Summer is... uh... HERE!!!Thanks for the debate,

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Weapon proficiency is as much a state of mind and ability think very quickly in a tactical sense. I don't think there is much argument about someone's ability to pull a trigger and inflict a mortal wound at 6 paces. Even with my not-so-great range scores with an M-16, even I am sure I could manage that. But being able to make a correct tactical decision and ignore psychological factors in an eye-blink is the most difficult thing to achieve imo.I don't really think a military comparison is neccessarily the very best one in this instance. Any soldier I have known has always remarked to me that it really isn't neccessary to make such tactical decisions in the heat of the moment. A soldier is simply trained to kill. If it moves, kill it. But what of the pilot in the sealed cockpit? You can't just say shoot whatyever comes through the door. What if a terrorist marches through the door with a knife at the throat of a member of the flight crew? Do you shoot both of them? One of them? Are you allowed to think for half a second to assess the pros and cons of the situation or do you just pull the trigger anyway because they are the "rules"? There are so many scenarios you just can't make hard and fast rules.At least with trained personnel in the back they are there to see the situation unfold. They have more training, more time, greater numbers, and greater ability. I know one thing is almost certain. A determined and properly trained terrorist will always hold a tactical advantage over armed personnel in a cockpit. So what if the cockpit door is sealed and never to be opened? That doesn't protect the two hundred people on the other side of that door.

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Well I cannot dismiss your arguments. They are indeed valid. As to the use of Sky Marshals, they are of course the best choice in a perfect world.Sadly, this is not a perfect world, and I do not believe the industry nor govt is going to pony up enough dollars to have one marshal on every flight scheduled daily. And until that happens, the cockpit needs to be defended.Lastly, in this discussion, everyone seems to be forgetting what the pilots want. From the news reports, from testimony on the hill, from statements made by pilots and flight crew it would seem that at least some, if not many wish to see this happen, or would at least like to explore this further.Best to you Jon. I appreciate a well reasoned, thoughtful, courteous debate such as this has been! bt

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It's always entertaining to discuss things with you Braun. I will try to keep us up to date with any happenings in this regard over our side of the pond. I guess pilot sentiment in Oz may be somewhat similar to the US but of course we have different legislators here (with the good and bad points that may possibly entail).

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From Braun: Actually, I'm not forgetting what the pilots want. I'm simply dismissing it as the imprudent and poorly thought out ideas of a few thoroughly professional ATP pilots who happen to be inadequately trained and proficient in the handling of small arms in a tactical situation.Evidently, the U.S. Government feels the same way. They recently declared that no flight crew would carry firearms. Period. And I'd like to think that my input on this matter over the past few months might have had even just a little to do with their decision.The best analogy I have is this: The flight crew would have no better chance of success using a gun to quell an onboard terrorist attack than the average flightsimmer would have safely landing a RW heavy in an emergency.I agree with Jon about qualifying at the range versus a life and death exchange. The two simply cannot be compared. They're worlds apart.Now I'm thirsty... could you pass me a cold one, Braun? :-)

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>Now I'm thirsty... could you pass me a cold one, Braun?Sitting right here for you Greg. Come on up and get it! :)

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