So I’m having this disagreement with Nicki regarding the carrying of firearms on commercial airliners.
I am just fine with the idea of sworn police officers—be they federal, state or local officers—carrying their issue firearms on aircraft while on or off duty so long as they’ve taken and passed the FAA’s “Flying While Armed” class that teaches them what to do and not do in flight. (It’s actually a pretty comprehensive class. I’ve taken it, but I won’t divulge what it consists of because terrorists and Democrats may read this blog.)
Nicki, on the other hand, thinks that pretty much anyone with a concealed weapons permit (CCW) should be allowed to tote their loaded guns onto commercial flights.
Sorry, but as much as I support gun rights and concealed carry for law-abiding citizens, I can’t go there.
I support armed professionals on aircraft as a deterrent to hijackers. The Air Marshals are a good start, even though the FAA did water down the program in their rush to hurriedly get as many as possible on board as many aircraft as they could. Extending it to other armed professionals—trained police officers—only makes sense. These are people who have been vetted by background checks, trained in police academies and continuing in-service programs, and monitored by supervisors and their peers from their first day on the job. They are people that we already know and trust with the ability to use deadly force for the protection of others, and they don’t become any less trustworthy just because they are on an aircraft.
When it comes to John Q. Citizen, however—the ones that people like Nicki want flying armed—I have to draw the line for a few reasons, the first being that few of them have the same level and type of training and experience that the average law enforcement officer does. Yeah, I know—there are people reading this who will tell me how they go to the range three or four times a week and punch hundreds of holes in paper targets. But speaking as someone who has also spent many hours on the range AND been through actual police training, I can state that they are in no way comparable. The paper targets don’t move, shoot back, or otherwise work to stress you out. There’s a major difference between the two, and the average CCW holder just isn’t up to that level. Sorry, folks.
My second reason is that in much of America today, practically anyone without a criminal record can get a CCW. Frankly, I could see an al Qeada sleeper terrorist or muslim convert like Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, John Allen Muhammad or John Walker Lindh getting a CCW for the express purpose of boarding an airliner. What a coup that would be for their cause. However, common sense suggests that they’re much less likely to get hired by a police department and make it through the training and scrutiny that recruits are subjected to.
But my biggest reason—and one that really saddens me because I have to feel the way that I do: Gun owners themselves.
I have, over the years, come into contact with thousands of fellow gun owners, both police and civilians. And while the police community has a few goofballs in it, the gun owning community is unfortunately rife with them, and these days one need go no farther than their computer to see what I mean. The internet contains countess pro-gun discussion forums, and almost without exception, every single gun-related forum out there contains a number of total jerks who seem to do nothing but brag and bluster about their plans and desires to shoot other people, from the burglars that they lie in wait for, to the muggers that they pray will attack them, and even American military and police personnel on the day that the civil war that they long for kicks off. These idiots are a small minority on most boards, and they frequently annoy everyone else with their obnoxious behavior, but they also set the tone for this debate by virtue of their mentality, behavior and very existence. And if you’ve ever logged on to any discussion board, you’ve doubtless seen them--they’re usually anti-government, often anti-police, frequently Libertarians or Ron Paul kool-aid drinkers, and they do little more than make the forums and gun owners in general look like perpetually angry hicks and losers. Sure, they’re almost certainly bolder on the internet than they are in real life because they feel safe in their anonymity, but there’s no doubt that most of them are immature assholes in real life too. If you’ve spent any time on boards like AR15.com, FALfiles, Uzitalk, Glocktalk or Gunboard Forums (just to name a few—no board that I’m aware of is free of infestation), you’ve undoubtedly run across these types and if you’re like me, you wouldn’t feel comfortable having them around you or your family with a loaded gun. However many of them have concealed weapons permits by virtue of the fact that they’ve not been convicted of a serious crime yet. That being the regrettable case, I for damned sure don’t want tools like that on an aircraft that I’m on. Sorry, but gun owners tend to be their own worst enemy at times, and I’ve encountered enough of them who refuse to live up to the responsible, mature image that we’re supposed to idealize that I’m no longer willing to automatically give the “thumbs up” to any joker who has a gun or even a CCW—particularly when we still have states that don’t even require mandatory training to get a CCW. While gun owners, like every other segment of the population, fall under the 10/80/10 rule, with 10% being exemplary, 80% being average, and 10% being folks who should never be allowed to own a gun, until we can find a way to grant the ability to fly armed to that top 10% who would be an asset on any aircraft, I have to side with those who say that we need to protect ourselves against that latter 10% as much as we do the terrorists (probably more so, because I suspect that there are more of them in America today), even if it’s to the disadvantage of the other 90%. Like I said—I’m seriously pro-gun, but as far as I’m concerned, the lowest common denominator in our midst is literally wrecking it for everyone.
Perhaps when enough other gun owners band together to police the pro-gun community and shun or drive out the morons and take other steps—like supporting mandatory training for CCW issuance—designed to enhance and elevate our credibility, I’ll change my mind. But I don’t see myself changing it today.