Airline pilots don't need to carry guns

A proposal has been made to allow pilots to holster a loaded gun. The current law that allows them to have a gun only in the cockpit is enough.

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Airport - and airplane - security in this country is very good. Thorough searches are conducted of passengers and their luggage.

In addition, undercover sky marshals are aboard random flights as a way to further suppress hijacking attempts.

And many pilots have loaded guns in the cockpit with them.

But apparently pilots now want police-like authority to holster their weapon so they can have it with them as they walk through the plane and even airport terminals.

"That would put us in line with standard law enforcement," said Marcus Flagg, president of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Association, which represents thousands of pilots who have gone through the training to have a weapon in the cockpit.

This is a very bad and dangerous idea.

Commercial airline pilots are not law enforcement officers, they are pilots.

The training they receive to carry a firearm is no doubt extensive as it takes six days and it includes learning close-combat techniques. However, pilots did not have to go through the application process to be hired as a law enforcement officer that, presumably, would narrow the field to those who are mentally and physically suited to be an officer of the law.

That's not taking anything away from pilots. Most people are not suited to fly an airplane and 10 years of training would still not be enough to make most of us qualified pilots. Being extremely proficient at something generally takes more than training.

But even a pilot who is highly skilled with a gun and close combat should not be walking through an airport terminal or through a plane with a loaded gun. The gun could be taken away from him or her and used to hijack a plane or create some of other type of mayhem.

It's not too far-fetched to imagine a hijack-suicide plot in which 10 - or even five - people boarded a plane with the idea of rushing the pilot when he or she was out of the secured cockpit. Perhaps a few of them would be killed as the pilot fired the gun, but ultimately the gun could be taken away.

Beyond all this, where is the need for pilots to pack a gun? In the decade since the 9/11 attack, there has not been an incident in which a pilot needed to be armed either on a plane or at the airport.

No harm has occurred because pilots have guns in the cockpit and, perhaps, the practice has served as a deterrent to hijackers.

Leave the law as it is, but there is zero need to expand it to allow pilots to holster loaded guns.

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