Real Airline Security

A Jet Blue pilot went loopy, started screaming about bombs, prayers, Iraq and Afghanistan, and running down the aisle. He was tackled and restrained by passengers and locked out of the cockpit by his copilot—just as it was passengers or crew that secured the planes targeted by the shoe-bomber and underwear bomber.

Indeed, it seems as though passengers and crew are the ultimate defense once the plane is in the air. As for the pilots, they control a weapon far more dangerous than any boxcutter, gun, or even small improvised bomb—the plane itself. Yet what is done to prevent someone malicious or unstable from being a pilot? There are plenty of safeguards, but no perfect guarantee.

If there were a more dangerous incident, however, would unarmed passengers be enough to quell the threat? Would it perhaps be better to let customers board planes with guns—as they were allowed to do so years ago? This seems like a crazy question to ask. A more moderate position is that pilots should be allowed to have guns but not passengers, yet that wouldn’t have worked out as well in this situation.

Anthony Gregory is a former Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books American Surveillance and The Power of Habeas Corpus in America.
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