“They are already allowed to carry guns in the cockpit, but many pilots say that’s not enough to keep aviation as safe as it should be,” philly.com reports. “They want police-like authority to holster a weapon all day long, whether they are at the controls, riding in back of a plane or eating lunch in a terminal. ‘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 armed pilots.” Hang on. They’re not law enforcement. They’re pilots . . .

And if you’re going to give pilots the right to keep and bear arms at 30k feet or inside a terminal, what about me? Are glorified bus drivers–I mean highly skilled pilots any better at gun handling and terrorist shooting than your average concealed carry license holder? Apparently so . . .

The Transportation Security Administration declines to say why it won’t allow pilots to carry guns outside of the cockpit, other than to safeguard the traveling public. However, weapons experts say the policy likely is intended to eliminate the possibility of a troublemaker wresting a gun from pilot or of an accidental discharge while outside the cockpit.

Flagg said the chances of a pilot being stripped of his gun were slim. “Yes, there is that possibility,” he said, “but you’re trained to protect against that.”

During six days of intense training in Artesia, N.M., pilots not only learn how to handle weapons but also close-combat techniques. Further, passengers don’t know whether a pilot is carrying a gun and that many ride in back out of uniform, he said.

Who knew that the town featured in David Bowie’s The Man Who Fell to Earth is training pilots how to disarm box cutter-wielding jihadists, and the best way to shoot bad guys without taking out the hydraulics? And what’s the bet some national security somethingorother prevents TTAG from attending said training? Watch this space.

41 Responses to OMG! Guns! On Airplanes! Guns on Airplanes. OMG!

  1. Having had Uncles who were combat pilots, I can say having shootouts in a pressurized cabin at 30,000 feet will not end well.

    • Seems that lots of B-29’s through B-52’s should have had much more problems than they did, if that were the case.

      • Lulz, I just trolled myself. I was about to reply “B-29s weren’t pressurized, but good point” when I remembered that they were.

    • Remove the word pressurized because it is irrelevant to the problem. Yes, shootouts (were they to actually occur) would be really bad in a crowded fuselage, but there would be no dramatic suck out followed by the roar of airplane engines and a sudden dive for the ground.
      Unless you are in a Hollywood movie. Then you have snakes on top of it all.

      • Well, let me just say that the B-26 my Uncle flew was much simpler than the finnicky stuff of today. Bullets taking out electrical busses, computers, avionics, electronics, hydraulics, fuel lines, turbine blades, and other good items would not be cool. The people packed in like cattle could be a problem as well. Shooting in a pressurized cabin would result in loss of cabin pressure and probably people would not get the oxygen masks on, so they would have to get the plane to 10,000 feet. Fuselage holes tend to get larger with air flow of 500 mph working on the metal. The Pilots are not trained for emergencies as they rely on computers and cannot even figure out to put the nose down in the event of a stall. As I said, this may not end well.
        Yes, I know Hollywood is BS on pressurized fueselages.

  2. Much as I would like the 2A to apply in the sky as much as the ground, the consequences of someone in First Class pulling a Grebner at 36,000 ft are much more serious for all involved.

    “I am the only one on this plane professional enough to handle a Glock Fortay-BANG !”

  3. But it’s not a bad strategy to chip away, chip away, and chip away at the laws restricting guns. Pilots win today, military tomorrow, then people who shoot professionally, then people in shooting clubs, and then everybody. Chip away at the insanity.

  4. Referencing shoot outs in flight, just how big a hole does a .40 caliber bullit make in the fuselage of an airplane? If you guessed .40″ you are correct. The outflow valve of a jet airliner (the thing that controls the pressure inside the cabin) is around 5″ in diameter. You can make lots of little holes inside and the outflow valve will close just a little. Of course by then the pilots will be descending at 6000+ feet per minute getting down and heading for the nearest runway.

    If you are thinking, “what about a window being blown out (not likely), Myth Busters did an episode on this very topic.

    See the following link to a synopsis of the episode in question.

    http://kwc.org/mythbusters/2004/01/mythbusters_explosive_decompre.html

    • I am surprised how much this urban legend is passed around. Short of a catastrophic failure due to a material defect at a microscopic level (requiring a TEM or SEM to detect, hence undetectable) there won’t be Hollywood-style disintegration of an aircraft fuselage.

      • The reason for the myth is “Goldfinger.” Watching Gert Frobe getting sucked out of the Jetstar’s window is one of the memorable scenes from the movie. However just like a lot of other things in the Bond movies, it simply can’t happen.

        Never get your science (or history) from Hollywood.

  5. I just tried to modify my comment by mentioning that people should forget Goldginger’s defenestration, and imagine their pilot might be someone like the famous P….. Galore…and it got blocked as spam. Why? I just can’t understand it. Now my original comment referencing Goldfinger has also disappeared. Unfair, I say, unfair! laugh.

  6. The Today Show did a feature on the FFDO program a little while ago. Find that in a search and you’ll see what the training entails. TTAG can get in they’re if they have someone on staff who is a currently employed airline pilot and goes through the background check, psych exam, etc. But they wouldn’t let you post anything about it. People have been reprimanded for giving out more info than they should.

  7. Someone at TTAG ought to see if the guys that run the program will allow someone to do a write up about the program. Others have done features about the FFDO program as has been done about the Federal Air Marshal program. Give it a shot. The worst they can do is say no.

    • I don’t know, my first thought was that it even moreso makes a “them” and “us” distinction; people still end up giving their lives and personal safety over to another assumed authority figure. I’ll give my safety over to the pilot in the trust that he’ll fly the plane, not protect me from terrorists.

      If pilots are able to carry on the plane, then any citizen should be.

      • If more and more people become “them,” then sooner or later “them” will be “us.”

        Whoa. That actually makes sense.

  8. Maybe cabin pressure isn’t a genuine issue, but, if a gun were fired, who could miss all the passengers packed like cattle in most of the plane?

    • And if there are NO guns on the plane and the bad guys decide to hijack it the US Air Force will SHOOT IT DOWN in FLAMES. THEN where will all those poor passengers be ?!?!?!?

  9. In the deepest part of my soul, I don’t trust people with guns.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am totally 2A, on the ground, open with plenty of Earth under my feet.
    In a crowded pressurized tube, five miles in the atmosphere, traveling at 500mph+ air speed. Things become rather problematic.
    Often in a regular restaurant, crowed with people, in my mind I play out the “what ifs”. Rarely does it look good, and I don’t dine in tubes.

    • You sound like Clint Eastwood. He’s sort of anti, and said this, “Gun Control? If there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.”

  10. The vocal 5% of these guys are the wanna=be cop junkies. 90% of the pilots want to be just that, pilots. The other 5% of FFDO’s are quiet, unassuming guys who can handle the responsibility of a concealed weapon. I’ve had calls from local PD’s from pilots who come in wanting to shoot with their SWAT Team, applying for their secret undercover LE car registration and license, and leaving their guns in the hotel rooms while on trips (not in a locked safe, drawer, etc, just in open view for Housekeeping to enjoy).

    The best was the one who tried to convince me his pistol wasn’t zeroed correctly as the shots at 1 foot were accurate, but the ones at 10 feet weren’t(?). If more of the low key 5% wanted in, great. But the other 5% have opposed ANY form of psych testing, they just want the trappings of, and the perceived privileges of law enforcement officers.

  11. …and the best way to shoot bad guys without taking out the hydraulics?

    You’d have to do an awful lot of shooting in very specific locations to take out double and triple redundant systems, or their in some cases quadruple redundant pump systems.

    Given the training and discipline required to pilot commercial aircraft, I’m more than fine with said pilots being armed to the teeth at any given time. Said training and discipline is several times that of your average cop.

  12. I think ya’ll have overlooked something. The Pilot in Command is directly responsible for everything that goes on in the airplane from when it leaves the gate until it arrives at the next one. The pilot is captain, and as such is the government on the plane.
    This power comes from airplanes being considered ships of the air. Ship captains have the authority to marry, ect. Ship captains of yore were alone in the middle of the sea for months or years with only very very nominal oversight by their country of origin, they were able to do basically whatever they thought was right.
    Another thing, the very first mail pilots carried handguns. I doubt that it still is the case, but there is strong historical precedence.
    It seems to me that these pilots want to follow in this tradition.

    • “The pilot is captain, and as such is the government on the plane… This power comes from airplanes being considered ships of the air.”

      What kind of bullsiht analogy is that?

    • “The pilot is captain, and as such is the government on the plane… This power comes from airplanes being considered ships of the air.”

      We don’t live in a steampunk fantasy. When did pilots obtain a monopoly on legitimized violence? As the driver of a taxi or bus, am I a captain and government as well? May I try and punish people for breaking the laws of my vehicle, such as 15% gratuity?

  13. I don’t have a problem with reasonably well-trained, psychologically vetted pilots (or anybody meeting that criteria, really) carrying on an airplane, but I have my doubts about the real utility. I think the old hijacking paradigm is done for. Anybody who tries to take over an airplane without a bomb or similar catastrophic device is going to fail.

    • Hahahah, no.

      Maybe machetes or tomahawks, but you gotta do some awfully serious work to efecintley use any sort of bladed weapon.

      Thats why firearms are so popular. They’re way easier to use.

  14. Putting a shot into a wing or anywhere else that carries lots of fuel is probably more of a risk than anything. It almost certainty wont catch fire or explode, but if you’re over the middle of the Atlantic, and leaking fuel, you’re in for some bad times.

    If a pilot can go through the Air Marshal program before he’s o.k to carry, that’s fine with me. But peoples whos primary occupation does not involve carrying a gun make me very nervous when they do.

    We all know that it takes very serious training and lots of practice to competently handle a firearm and even then, the contest is not certain should you actually have to defend yourself.

    I think most pilots want a gun not for its utilitarian purpose, but for the peace of mind it provides to the ignorant. Just like the CCP holder with a J frame in their pocket or purse and a yearly visit to the shooting range, most people are more of a liability with a firearm than they are an asset to anyone’s safety. Dont get me wrong, its their right to defend themselves and carry a weapon to do it, but it is alarming how many people have little to no training and still feel secure carrying a weapon they practice with very seldom.

    Another issue I’d like to bring up is one of jurisdiction…Are U.S flights considered sovereign U.S property? I seriously doubt it. If armed pilots carry overseas, and touch down on a runway that’s anywhere other than the U.S, there are going to be some HUGE political and diplomatic issues with these armed gentlemen.

    • As long as the air carrier is US flagged, then the airframe is considered US territory from door closing till opening on foreign territory. The logistics of international travel with weapons for non diplomatic personnel is staggering. Then there are those countries where you have to give a “gift” to the local officials to get your equipment back, and those that have draconian laws for violations. I have dealt with several FFDO’s whose flights have been diverted to Canada and haven’t been able to leave the plane until the Embassy takes charge of the weapon due to Canadian weapon laws.

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