Guns on planes? (courtesy tripcart.typepad.com)

You want to know why civilian disarmament is all the rage? We’ve become a nation of wimps. The howls of protest greeting the TSA’s decision to allow knives on planes are proof positive that The Home of the Brave is now The Home of the Somebody Please Protect Me! Last night, conservative radio host Michael Savage railed against the “lunacy” of letting airplane passengers carry a knife with a 2.6″ or less blade that doesn’t lock. “What are you going to do if 10 Islamofascists grab a baby and one of them holds a knife to its jugular?” Savage asked a caller. Gee Michael, what would you do? Curse the TSA? If it were me, I’d start shooting as many as I could and hope for the best for the baby. Oh wait. I can’t shoot anyone. I can’t carry a gun on an airplane. And that’s because . . .

I might use it to hijack the plane or kill people. Well, not me per se. “Me” used here in the sense of “anyone with a gun.” Well, not anyone . . .

Pilots are allowed to carry firearms. Air Marshalls, too. In fact, according to the TSA Blog, “As of July 15, 2009, TSA implemented security enhancements to the process that allows state, local, territorial, and tribal Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) to fly armed.”

So pilots and police can carry a gun in a plane (or Amtrak train) but not me or other law-abiding Americans. We can’t be trusted. Not with a locking knife or a firearm.

If nothing else, we’re not as as “qualified” as LEOs when it comes to defending life and limb. Allegedly.

Did you know that civilians remove more criminals from the gene pool than cops and do so far more efficiently with less collateral damageForty-one shots, six hits? Sixteen shots, nine bystanders hit? More? All done?

Not yet.

LEOs who want to carry on an airplane have to take a special class. Do they teach them how to shoot a gun in an airplane (e.g. where not to aim or what to do during rapid depressurization)? They do not. The whole class is about clearing security.

Now hear this: a law-abiding American with a firearm could have saved thousands of lives during the 9/11 attacks. Maybe even stopped a war before it began. Speaking of which, can we discuss deterrence?

No, I suppose not. The idea that armed citizens in airplanes would prevent terrorist attacks by their mere presence strikes most Americans as sensible as putting armed guards in schools to prevent spree killings. Oops. Sorry. Less. A lot less. For some reason.

Some gun owners have proposed a “special permit” for Americans who wish to fly armed. I agree. I reckon a copy of the United States Constitution ought to do it. You know if I was going to be a man about it.

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85 Responses to Knives on Planes? Hello? What About Guns?

  1. I could not believe the howling protests I saw over at LA Times over allowing knives on planes.

    Hello! Now that we know terrorists are not going to let people off alive you could smuggle a bazooka on these days and the passengers are not going to let you take over the plane.

    Anyone worried about knives has got to be the biggest pantywaist in the world.

    • I’ve always thought that underneath the food tray at every seat should be a razor sharp machete. That way the terrorists would have to have a majority to take over the plane. That’s how this country works right – majority rules? oh wait there’s that whole “constitutional republic thing”

      • When I was younger, I flew with a knife all of the time. Just put my pocketknife in the litte bowl where your other metal things go that get passed around the outside of the metal detector. They saw it. It was just a pocket knife. That stopped some years ago, obviously haha

        BTW what’s with the infant thing? I have a 9-month-old baby, and you actually have to purposefully keep the things alive. Killing a near-inanimate baby does not require a knife or any other implement. You can do it by simply doing nothing, or can do it with one finger in about one second. Kind of gross and depressing to think about, yes, but implying that a terrorist would have to have a tiny knife on the plane in order to hold a baby’s life hostage is ridiculous.

  2. If someone is going to go to the trouble to smuggle an infant on to a plane, why couldn’t they just choke it? What difference does them having a infant’s sized knife make?

  3. Cool, I can now take my less than useful Swiss Army tailor tool, but forget about a bottle of water purchased past the security gate. How about my tube of assault toothpaste? The high capacity reservoir of dental goodness is never restricted enough to keep the illiterate freaks in blue happy. The fact that I was treated like a child molester just to board the plane in the first place should have nothing to do with it. How about the fact that the whole reason for the TSA in the first place was a group of individuals serving a maligned purpose armed with box cutters…No ridiculous hypocrisy here.
    Until the TSA is completely disbanded, there is no consolation. As I have written on this board before, I was on a no-fly list simply because of the commonality of my fvcking name. There is zero common sense at work here.

  4. RF, good luck convincing gunnies that the Constitution is our “special permit” when most have already sought permission slips for concealed carry.

    The argument against government granting permission to excercise your rights has already been ceded.

    • I disagree just because we choose to work within the law does not mean that we accept it as is easily seen by the numbers of states that have gone to constitutional carry laws largely supported by people whom are ccw permit holders

    • Calling the constitution a permit is ridiculous in and of itself but nevermind that. It’s called incrementalism.

      Our rights and liberty were not lost in a day and cannot be won back in a day (if they can be won back at all).

      Like it or not the incrementalist approach has been successful as far as concealed carry goes. Just look at how many states went from no carry or may issue to shall issue over the past couple decades. Now some states are moving from shall issue to constitutional carry.

      I personally find even shall issue permitting insulting and a violation of our rights but it’s been successful in serving as a stepping stone and demystifying the whole practice.

      Each time some idiot predicted blood in the streets and it didn’t materialize, we won.

      • I agree with regard to the Constitution… it doesn’t “grant” me permission either.

        Incrementalism for freedom would only work if it was faster than the incrementalism of tyranny, which it’s not.

        Permission to drive, permission to build on your property, permission to run a business, permission to sell food, permission to use your land, permission to work, permission to run a charity, permission to gather in a group in public, permission to build a fence, permission to dispose of waste, permission to own a dog…

        Some people in some states arguing for some relief from some permits will never overcome the continual encroachment of liberty that defines local, state, and federal governmental power. Rejecting the idea and practice of obtaining government permission is the only way liberty will be victorious.

        • Yep, HB, we are a softer but still institutionalized version of the mentality that convicts get while in prison.
          The land of the free and home of the brave have become the land of needing a permit for practically everything and the home of Stockholm Syndrome survivors.

    • Bam. You aren’t going to get a whole lot of “revolution” sitting in the pen. Follow the law, educate others, fight with civility.

      Keep the tinfoil hat within reach, just in case…

  5. I guess you would act the same as if you weren’t on a plane and someone threatened a baby. Surprising coming from Savage.

  6. This is the bizarre logic of the TSA that rules our security… Case in point. My father took a plane out to Iraq for one of his tours and it was a commercial aircraft but for a designated flight. He had his M4 strapped to his back and his 9mm on his thigh in a standard holster yet they had to search his luggage for liquids over 3 oz. I have the pictures, they are a hoot.

    • They did the same thing to us when we flew a charter flight to Afghanistan. M-9s, M-4s, 240s, 249s and knives were all OK but they took the scissors and needles out of our med kits.

    • I had the same experience on both my tours. I specifically remember going through security in Germany and having to hand my m16 to the tsa(or whatever in Germany on an AFB) and walking through the metal detector. They didn’t even look at the rifle. How many 223 rounds would fit in the butt stock you think?

  7. I was under the impression that putting a hole in the plane would cause depressurization problems… are the pilots & marshals using frangible ammo or something?

      • A strong man with a sharp pencil could punch through the aluminum skin of most airliners, and the plastic-and-cloth interior coverings aren’t bulletproof, either.

        But a bullet hole in the fuselage isn’t catastrophic, as others have mentioned.

    • Causes less problems then Hollywood makes you think there are go sky diving and you can see how ridiculous some of the claims are

      • been once, lost a contact! haha, I figured it was over hyped, and prob beats being dead by a long shot, just curious

    • Brian S, aircraft already have a hole in the fusilage — an outflow valve. Rapid decompression can kill, but it won’t be by getting sucked through a bullet hole. It’s a Hollywood fiction.

    • Putting a .40″ hole in the aircraft would be corrected by the outflow valve closing fractionally. Ralph is correct. The “Goldfinger” effect doesn’t exist. Maybe if a window blew, I wouldn’t want to be seated next to it, but beyond that, not much. Sure the cabin would depressurize, but the crew would descend to a lower altitude and till you got there, cabin O2 would be available via oxygen generators.

    • The outflow valve that controls aircraft pressurization is over a foot square on a 737 (there is a constant influx of high-pressure air inserted via the engines).

      A bullet-sized hole at cruise altitude will have very little impact on that cabin pressure, despite what Hollywood depicts.

  8. I only fly if it’s absolutely an emergency. If the airline industry collapses in this country who will we blame? The terrorists or the TSA?

    • I agree, I used to fly a lot more, but it’s gotten so friggn expensive, and then you get the pleasure of being felt up or irradiated, and crammed into a cattle car, and I’ve hear you have to pay for everything in flight now. I’ll drive thanks.

    • Yup. I don’t fly anymore either. The last experience I had with the overall incompetence of the airlines, the asinine way the TSA conducts what can only be called “business” in the loosest sense of the word, and the fact I pay a premium for all of it finally got to me. If it’s too far to drive, or takes me where my CCW isn’t respected, then I don’t really need to go.
      Lately, I look at some of these great pics of my home town from the 60’s, 70’s, and even the 80’s, and I want to just climb in one.

    • Before I retired from engineering, I used to fly once or twice a week.

      Shortly after 9/11, I ceased flying commercial aviation. I refuse to be treated like cattle by jabbering idiots given a badge and a bunch of attitude.

      The “security” put on by the airlines is nothing more or less than a confidence show, a theatrical sham. All bona fide threats to flights since 9/11 have been dealt with by passengers, not even air marshals.

      The best solution to airline security would be to give everyone a Ka-bar upon boarding and ask for it back upon de-planing.

      • I totally agree, DG, except that the security theatre is put on by our federal gov’t., not the airlines.

        • You’re right on the money DG, but remember that the airlines asked for the gov’t to take on the job because they wanted to dodge the responsibility and expense.

          I’m with you on never flying anymore. For a long time I rented small planes and flew myself. That was before I got old and avgas got so expensive

  9. Does anyone even make a decent folding knife with a blade under 2 5/16 inches (<6cm)? Every knife I own is too long AND locking with the exception of my little scissors leatherman, which may count as "locking" depending on your interpretation.

  10. Another good one… In Hapkido there is the study of pressure points which can be executed with a strong hand or an item called a kubaton. It’s just a stick that is 1/2 inch in diameter and 4 inches long. Kubatons are banned from flight but a thick permanent marker of the same size and length is not. A sensei, to remain unnamed, once told me to carry a marker in my front pocket if I chose to fly and it would work just as well.

  11. I don’t fly unless it is an emergency. The airlines could band together and get rid of the TSA and they don’t even try. Screw ’em.

    I have a right to bear arms and a right to travel. Therefore I have a right to be armed when I travel. Nuff said.

  12. Remember a few years back when the media was having an aneurism squawking like headless chickens about terrorists buying .50 cal “anti-aircraft” sniper rifles and blasting planes out of the air from 5 miles away? Yeah…

  13. Car or truck: Yes. Motorcycle: Yes. Airplane: piss on the airlines!! Hope they like the fact that they are just as stupid as a lot of our politicians. As mentioned above they could band together and negate the TSA but noooo! Got to have all of them almighty dollars they can to treat you like shit for the supposed privilege of flying. Not me!

        • Stick a spent .22 casing in the tread of your boot and you’ll get a taxpayer funded Ménage à trois.
          After that you can believe I ALWAYS check my boots before leaving for the airport.

        • How’s this. When qualifying for work, I used to put a few loose rounds in my jacket pocket to provide weight for my concealed carry draw. Forgot to take them out. Wore the jacket a few days later as I flew to Africa, through Paris. Got to the hotel and was going through my jacket to find a key, found four 9mm rounds. Oops.

          That could have ended badly. Shows how worthless the system is.

        • The good thing about getting felt up by some TSA chick is that you don’t have to spring for a nice dinner and drinks.

          If you close your eyes you can pretend that she’s Salma Hayek.

      • If you don’t mind getting “checked” by a guy. It’s called a “male assist”. The only country where I’ve been felt up by female security is Russia…and they might as well been dudely.

  14. Emerson Knives will be releasing the “Hummingbird” folder, small, tenacious, and TSA allowed.

    I’d be more concerned with the pool cue, golf club, and mini-bats that are also allowed. If I were facing an attacker that was armed with a tiny blade, aside from a firearm, I’d opt for any of those three items over a tiny non-locking blade.

    A strong thrusting strike with the end of a pool cue will focus a ton of energy on that small area, and can do massive damage. No need to swing it baseball bat style.

    Really though, since the airlines have changed their protocols and hardened the flight deck, knives and other similar items don’t pose the major threat they did prior to 9/11. Sure they could be used to slash or stab, but they won’t allow for the taking of control of the aircraft, especially if the passengers are carrying similar items.

    If I can’t fly with a concealed firearm, I should at least be able to carry a folding karambit, or CQC-8.

  15. Guns on a train, guns on a train, guns anywhere else – makes no difference. Its interesting that someone like Savage can act this way. It seems that even our friends buy into “ban those dangerous weapons” mind set when taken unawares.
    This whole thing has been misreported in any case. Its not that the TSA is encouraging people to all carry knives and/or bats, golf clubs or whatever only that they’re no longer going to make a big deal over these small and/or insignificant items. The press, of course, pumps-it-up in the grand ol’ yellow journalism style and everybody gets excited. Pleeeze!

  16. One of the great things about flying with the Marines is that you can carry all sorts of knives, bayonets, pistols, rifles and light machine guns and no one tries to hijack the plane.

    They’ve tightened up a bit. I remember in 2005 we flew into Shannon, Ireland and they hadn’t yet set up a screening checkpoint for getting off the plane into the terminal for us, so we all wandered about the terminal with our knives discretely tucked in our belts and pockets. We left the firearms on the plane under watch.

    I went back through in 2011 and they had a new process to screen us before we went into the terminal. I suppose that’s okay, but it’s funny how no planes were hijacked or stores robbed by the military flying through before they did.

    • And for anyone that thinks that Marines are special and have some unusual level of trust earned, well, you haven’t seen all the dumb knuckleheaded things I’ve seen Marines do!

      • I have, and ever now and then I was in on it too. “Basic Training” is not an 8 week course. It is a 3 to 4 year course. (in my time). Even well trained 18/19 year olds do not become seasoned Marines/Paratroopers/Infantry until into their late 20s, early 30s. Combat is an accelerated survival course. A skilled combat individual is not necessarily the most trust worthy. But, no less than anybody else either. If SHTF, experience counts.

    • I’ve done the Bangor to Shannon thing, back in the day.

      Here is a song for you, tangentially related: Reckless Kelly – Seven nights in Ireland

  17. Sorry gents, but the ability to fly on an aircraft is not a right enumerated in the Constitution. You have the freedom to drive, take a train, hitch hike, walk, ride a donkey, or sail a boat to wherever your little armed heart desires, but when you step on an aircraft, you are no longer the one with ultimate responsibility for the safe conduct of the next 2-18 hours of your life, depending on the flight length.

    That responsibility and authority is not negotiable, it cannot be delegated, and it belongs solely to the aircraft commander/pilot in command. Allowing people to carry a firearm, and accepting the potential for the discharge of said firearms is the prerogative of the person who is ‘signing’ for the plane. You don’t like it? I hear gray hound buses are quite comfortable. Enjoy your trip.

    Federal flight deck officers and air marshal do use frangible ammo, by the way. Over penetration on an aircraft would generally be characterized as a ‘bad’ thing.

    Not really due to the pressurization issues it could cause (though unplanned holes in an aircraft can cause weird stuff to happen…embolism/DCS much, anyone? not pleasant, trust me), but mostly because of the 250,000 other moving parts that are critical to keeping the bernoulli’s going smoothly over the wing.

    I’m generally an absolutist on firearms rights, but this is one that is not negotiable due to the special circumstances involved with keeping anywhere from 50-350 of the unwashed masses safe from their own ignorance every time they get on an aircraft.

      • Perfect. When the aircraft commander asks you to deplane, that means you won’t cause a disturbance; whether or not the air marshals want to talk to you on the flight line is up to them.

    • You are absolutely correct, in theory, but not in practice. If the aircraft commander is responsible, then he would have the discretion of allowing firearms if he deemed it appropriate. However, federal regulations forbid it.

      I’d be more than happy to submit to the private property authority of an airline if there was free market competition. Then some airline companies would allow guns and would get my business.

      The problem here is not private propety owners exercising discretion, it’s federal governmental regulations infringing upon the natural, inherent, Constitutionally-protected rights of all of us with any recourse.

      • You can have your firearms on the aircraft…just so long as they are declared and checked with luggage.

        • Completely unrelated to Commander’s responsibility, Constitutional limitations on government, or property rights.

          You can state your opinions on aircraft…just so long as they are declared and checked with luggage.

        • Then a federal regulation saying you can have korans on the aircraft… just so long as they are declared and check with luggage would also be acceptable?

          The point is not about which item is banned… it’s the fact that the federal government is the one saying it’s banned when specifically forbidden from doing so.

        • Henry Bowman, we should have lunch. But it might get boreing when we keep saying the same thing at the same time.

    • “Federal flight deck officers and air marshal do use frangible ammo, by the way.”

      No, we don’t.

      “Over penetration on an aircraft would generally be characterized as a ‘bad’ thing.”

      A hole in the skin has been addressed above. In fact it has already happened once.

      • I did not say it would cause explosive decompression, I said it would be a ‘bad thing.’ Would everyone on board get sucked out? No.

        Would I have to make an immediate emergency descent that would be uncomfortable for pax? Yes, not the least of which would be the reason a firearm just went off onboard my aircraft.

        As mentioned above, an outflow valve malfunctioning can cause the exact same sort of discomfort/deferred emergency/’bad thing,’ minus the whole hammer-primer-ignition-combustion-acceleration-impact side of the equation.

        • Schoolbubba, when you say “your aircraft,” what aircraft do you mean? I detect an “appeal to authority.”

        • I find it hysterical that out of buses, trains, and planes, you seem to indicate that the only one not under the control of the passenger is the one you happen to drive. So your attitude towards this, based on the visible evidence, is driven solely by your personal sense of superiority over others. Freedom to travel is freedom to travel, if a company wants to ban guns aboard their planes that’s fine, if they don’t that should be allowed and then you would be perfectly free to quit because they do not cater to your self-aggrandizing nature.

    • As a retired airline pilot & FFDO, I’ve gotta’ throw the BS flag on some of this.
      You’ve got the Captain’s authority thing right. If there was someone I didn’t want on my airplane, they weren’t going… period. If the company wanted to argue with me, they were looking at about a 60 to 90 minute delay to find another captain to fly the trip. It was very rare for captains to remove passengers, and even more rare for the company to argue with the captain’s decision.
      “Federal flight deck officers and air marshal do use frangible ammo, by the way. Over penetration on an aircraft would generally be characterized as a ‘bad’ thing.”
      The ammo we used was changed from time to time. Whether or not it’s frangible is FOUO – For Official Use Only.
      Over penetration is indeed “bad”.
      Overwhelming the cockpit is worse.
      Contrary to what most people think, most modern airliner cabins are full of holes already – door/window seals that don’t fit quite right being the primary culprit. However, the compressed air output of the engines that is bled off for pressurization/air conditiong is usually way more than enough the handle the requirements. A dozen half-inch holes in the fuselage just aren’t going to depressurize the cabin.
      Also, the probability of a bullet (or several) exiting the fuselage and damaging an engine, much less multiple engines, is infinitesimally small. If that’s the kind of day you’re having, wouldn’t matter if you hadn’t gotten on the airplane – you would have been hit by a meteorite while riding the Greyhound bus.
      Bullets through the instrument panel? Yep, bad thing. Still, we regularly practice flying (in the sim) with grossly degraded systems – even crap like a night approach using nothing but a whiskey compass, mechanical gyro, and raw altitude data. Not fun, but that’s why we got the big bucks – 30 years ago. Now, my plumber makes more an hour than I did at the end of my career. That’s another story.
      My opinion of a perfect world: if you wanted to fly armed on my airplane, we would have a short but very intense conversation regarding your background, training & skills. If you put me at ease, you and your Sig are more than welcome on my airplane. If you left me feeling uncomfortable, you and your Glock are still welcome on my airplane. Your Glock will ride in the cockpit with me.

    • Yep, scoolbubba, you come across as arrogant, demeaning and condes cending to gun owners and the general public; so you are probably an armed designated agent of the state or an “intellectual elite”.

      Personally, considering the fact the hit ratio of police shooting innocent bystanders in trying to hit the bad guy versus the much better ratio of armed citizens;I mean, when the last time you heard of a DGU by an armed citizen where 15 citizens got sprayed with bullet fragments or news paper delivery ladies truck was sprayed with bullets in trying to kill a bad guy? the citizens should get first preference in getting on the plane before some badge with a gun; especially since the citizen would provide the protection for free.

    • Unwashed masses? Take a boat? The Captain of a ship has at least as much federal statutory legal authority as “federal flight deck officers.” Not only is driving your car not “a right enumerated in the Constitution,” but what is more, the Supreme Court has said so. And what on earth makes you think that the typical airline pilot is less a part of the unwashed masses than the adult passengers on a Boston-Paris flight? And even the unwashed masses can apparently fly a a jetliner: A bunch of Saudis managed to aim theirs into narrow targets quite effectively. I graduated from a US military flight school (helicopters, Ft. Wolters) before I’d even gone to college. Lighten up.

  18. Does anybody else feel seriously insulted when LEOs are given
    preference to carry a firearm? How many concealed carry
    holders are former or active military, firefighters, EMTs etc..
    We can be responsible for dozens of lives and millions of dollars
    worth of equipment, but a gun makes us untrustworthy,
    regardless of firearms training and experience?

    • Firefighter/EMT for seven and eleven years respectivley. Where I come from, on an emergency scene, we have command authority over the police. I agree with you 100%.

  19. The thing is, there probably never be another 9/11-style hijacking of a US airliner. Knowing what we know now, the hijackers would be overwhelmed by the passengers, knives be damned.

  20. In some places, the “contraband” that is confiscated at the airport security gates is sold to the public as government surplus. I’ve been to the storefront here, and it’s hilariously ridiculous. Sure, I’ve gotten great deals on very nice knives and multi-tools, but the kinds of things that are taken as “weapons” at TSA checkpoints are comical. Souvenir “mini-bat” from a ball game? Weapon! Folding sewing scissors? Weapon! Box of double-edged razor blades? Weapon! Guys in lockdown in supermax prisons have better weapons than this, but we’re afraid that some Lex Luthor terrorist mastermind is going to take over a 747 with them?

    Boxes and boxes of Leatherman Micra multi-tools. If you know what these are, you know they’re barely a threat to a stout piece of paper, much less an adult human being.

    They had a bowling pin. Yes, some schlub was trying to carry a bowling pin in his carry-on luggage, and the TSA took it away from him as a dangerous item. So be glad they’ll let you have a 2.6″ knife, because the next step beyond banning bowling pins is banning arms and legs.

  21. I don’t agree with allowing LEO’s to carry on planes. Can you imagine a NY LEO on the same plane as you? If he does need to use his gun I would imagine there would be more injured by standers than terrorist.

    • I have never been armed on a plane but I once decided to declare a classified pouch that that I had to keep in my possession at all times. I decided to be special and go through the exempt line. Had I thrown on belt I would have been through security in 5 minutes. Because I was special it took near an hour. After that I said screw it and just sent the pouch through. The internet it its various secure incarnations has solved the document transport problem. If I were a LEO I would never carry on the plane. Too much hassle.

  22. Thanks for telling it like it is. The people in this nation are pathetic cowards, unworthy of this nation’s legacy.

  23. “What are you going to do if 10 Islamofascists grab a baby and one of them holds a knife to its jugular?” Easy, stab everyone of those terrorist in the face with your own 2.6 inch long fixed blade knife.

  24. I’ve traveled with my AR-15 on the airlines. It has to be checked of course. I find it amusing though when the ticket counter askes me to clear it, to which I pull it out, pull the charging handle to the rear locking it in place show the girl (who really probably doesn’t know what she is looking at) that it is empty. Then I slap the side releasing the charging handle and pull the trigger. the sight and sound really does get the attention of everyone standing in line especially on busy days. Even with hundreds of people in line you can still hear a pin drop… or a hammer drop in this case…

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