October 10, 2001
Pilots and Passengers Want Arms, But Media Doesnt Get It
by Joseph P. Tartaro
Some Americans still dont seem to realize that things have changed since Sept. 11.
Perhaps they are the same people who never got it before; the ones who may never get it.
Among them I include the print and TV reporters who gasp that some pilots want to take loaded guns into the cockpits of their airplanes, not just to protect themselves and their passengers, but thousands of possible victims down below.
They say loaded gun with the emphasis on loaded, perhaps in the hope of building opposition to it, but they only demonstrate their own biases and stupidity. What would be the point in taking an unloaded gun into a cockpit, or anywhere else where security is critical? Unloaded, a gun is just a club. And while the terrorists may be trying to drive us back to the Stone Age with them, we dont have to make it easy.
The whole point of the new emphasis on national security and the war on terrorism is that we will fight backnot just the military and law enforcement folks, but all Americans who dont want to be victims.
Passivity Breeds Danger
If all Americans curl into a fetal position and wait for somebody else to protect them, we are in deep trouble.
The airline business is already in trouble. And so too are the travel, hotel, restaurant and related businesses. People have some justified fears about flying these days, but should that crush an entire industry and send the nation into a deep recession? If thats the case, the Sept. 11 attacks were more successful than the terrorists could have dreamed.
Since the attack I have flown twice, obviously from two different cities.
We passed through the security checks in Buffalo, NY, and at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in connection with the 16th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) the weekend of Sept. 21-23.
We got to both airports hours earlier than would be our usual style. Neither was as crowded as usual. In fact the Delta flight attendant on the trip from Buffalo said that our Sept. 20 evening flight was the most crowded shed seen since the terrorist attacks. She said she was glad to see the passengers coming back. I got the idea that her joband thousands of othersdepended on our continuing to conduct ourselves as normally as possible.
Yes, there were more intensive security measures. You had to show photo-ID when you checked luggage, when you entered a security checkpoint, and as you boarded the plane. In addition to the magnatometer and X-ray machines, about every third personincluding my wife, Patwas individually wanded, and maybe asked to lift pants legs, or open purses, etc.
It was more inconvenience, but thats all. Once on the plane, the service and the flights were fine.
Travel with Guns
So far the FAA has not changed any regulations regarding traveling with firearms in checked luggage. If some of the airlines have changed their rules, we havent heard about it yet. Some of the people attending the GRPC had traveled with handguns in their luggage with no new or unusual requirements.
While a TV station in Hawaii did a report on security officials at Honolulu Airport confiscating hundreds of knives, scissors and other sharp objects since heightened security was put in place after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we didnt have such problems, since we thought ahead.
The confiscated items in Honolulu also included souvenir lighters that looked like guns, authentic-looking toy grenades that could be bought in Waikiki, and brass knuckles.
More than 800 pairs of scissors, 79 knives and a dagger were taken from passengers at Honolulu Airports security checkpoints. Nail files, can openers and box cutterslike the ones that were used during the mainland hijackingswere also taken away.
Prior to the attacks, passengers were allowed to carry blades as long as four inches onto aircraft. But security experts say that those days are gone and will likely never return.
One of the women attending the GRPC told us that she had a pair of tweezers in her purse that the security people confiscated. Actually, she said they offered to put the tweezers in a box and ship it as checked luggage. For the small cost of the tweezers, she told them not to bother.
Certainly a lot of things have changed in America since the Sept. 11 attacks, and it doesnt look like the anti-gunners are taking much joy in the changes.
Americans more concerned about their own personal security have been buying guns and other products that suggest a higher emphasis on self-reliance.
Say what they like, and Sarah Brady has lectured America recently, people have figured it out for themselvessomething apparently many in the media still have not done. Or at least not done publicly.
One victim of the new mood in America may be the plans of anti-gun groups in Michigan to fund a referendum in 2002 to overturn the states new concealed carry law.
As reported elsewhere in this issue, the Michigan anti-gunners have pulled the plug on the whole idea of such a referendum, at least for next year.
Representatives of People Who Care About Kids and Michigan Partnership to Prevent Gun Violencetwo of the groups who have steadfastly opposed expansion of the right-to-carry in the statesaid they dont have the money to run a campaign, and without it theyre afraid a repeal of the law would be rejected.
Apparently the politicians and church groups who had fought the right-to-carry faltered when it came time to pony-up for the expensive campaign.
The national gun control organizations and wealthy individuals that the anti-gunners were counting on to finance a campaign were skeptical about the chances of success.
Although backers of the proposal were convinced they could collect more than 250,000 signatures to place the issue before voters, they were less certain that they could win a yes on it without a multi-million dollar advertising campaign.
They did claim that the pro-gun forces would have the money to fight and win the many 2002 statewide referendum campaign on CCWs. But that may come as a surprise to the national and state pro-gun organizations. The anti-gunners are the ones who are usually backed by the big foundations and major donors, and, of course, the anti-gunners would have the monolithic support of the anti-gun broadcast and print media, an advantage that is usually worth millions.
The anti-gunners in Michigan and elsewhere in America are not giving up. They are just biding their time. The issue will probably surface again in Michigan and Brady promises to keep the fires of elitism burning even if some of the fat cat foundations are short of funds.
Maybe there is some good to the state of the stock market after all.
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