TTAG Commentator Eric S added the following underneath our Question Of The Day on guns on planes. After liberating it from the spam queue (sorry Eric), I’ve elevated it here for your consideration.
Okay, not that my opinion is more valuable than others, but I do work in the airline industry (pilot):
1. The airport is a controlled access area like a courthouse and other such places. Theoretically, everyone past the security checkpoint is gun-free except certain folks like the Air Marshals and other LEOs. Security is not 100% but it’s pretty good. Many folks on these comments have previously stated they’re okay with a “gun-free zone” as long as there’s some kind of controlled access to guarantee the promise.
2a. I’m not completely opposed to civilians carrying weapons on planes, but there’s a lot more to think about than carrying on the street. Some have mentioned the other folks within close proximity and the biggest thing is being mistaken for a bad guy. To prevent this, all LEOs have to know who the other weapon-carriers are and where they’re seated. You’d have to go through this system and technically the Captain can refuse to board you if he/she doesn’t like weapon-carrying (rare in the LEO world but might be more common with civvies unless they have “flying armed” training which LEOs are required to have).
2b. Allowing passengers to CCW would basically require some kind of Federal-level CCW permit with permissions to carry in areas that don’t normally allow it. This would be due to flight diversions which might take you to a state that doesn’t recognize your state’s permit. Most gun-carriers on aircraft are Feds so they have no problem. There’s legislation that opened up carry to State and Local LEOs but there’s nothing like that (yet) for civvy gun-carriers. Let’s say you take-off from Pittsburgh going to Denver. On the way there is an aircraft system abnormal and the crew diverts to Springfield, IL… “uh oh” for you if you were carrying on a CCW permit from the state of PA. If you made a Federal-level CCW the requirements would probably be pretty stringent because it would open-up every state and those state Reps and Senators from IL, CA, MA, NY, etc. would insist on maximum training (cost) to get one.
3. As others stated, a gun in such close quarters is not necessarily the best weapon for the job. Most hijackers would have edged weapons and at a close distance (arm’s length) a gun would not be the best tool. However, you could choose the moment of engagement when the hijacker(s) aren’t close to you and perforate them when they’re a few rows away.
4. Why do you believe that you are unarmed on an airplane? Every passenger is issued a foot-long blunt object and a shield for gladiatorial combat. One of the things that worries knowledgeable aircrews is that there’s no way to disarm someone when there’s tons of weapons all over the aircraft. You don’t have access to it, but my favorite in the cockpit is the crash axe. Trust me, I don’t feel naked without my gun on an airplane because I know where to get my weapons, even when I’m in the back.
5. Don’t worry about hitting some critical component of the aircraft in a shootout, after the first gunshot the crew will be doing an emergency descent and landing right now. There’s virtually no system that’s likely to be hit that would cause a unrecoverable problem. If you hit the bleed lines and cause a bleed leak then we’ll close the associated engine bleed (this will disable the associated PACK but we can maintain pressurization with one, but even if we had to depressurize, we’ll be on the ground within 15 min). Over the ocean might be more problematic, but most over-ocean flight are in twins (777, 767, 757, A330) that are ETOPS certified so you won’t be much more than 30-45 min away from land and less than an hour from an airport. Although, you probably won’t be carrying over-ocean since whatever country you’re flying to would not be happy with you carrying a firearm through their Customs.
I apologize for the long post, but I don’t think many people consider the total ramifications of CCW on aircraft. I will again state that I am not 100% against it, but the reality of the situation is that it would cost a lot to get that kind of permission. Consider that few CCW-holders carry often. Then consider that bad guys could use an easy system to bypass security and get firearms on an aircraft knowing that the likelihood that there’s another civvy good guy is not that high. The aircraft CCW system would have to be pretty tight to be accepted by those who would be in charge of it. In summary, don’t hold your breath.