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Interesting commentary about arming transport pilots appeared in this forum right after the March "Packing Heat" article by Les Abend, but inexplicably vanished. Since Les just published more opinion about guns in the cockpit (June ''03, p. 42), let's try again.
Although he's done some soul searching, Les still misses the point about arming pilots, now seeing it as an issue of the public's "image" of an air transport pilot's duties rather than substance. How anyone can think this eludes me, but I can explain how many consumers of air transport think, and it's simple and credible: A transport pilot has responsibility for all aspects of safety of the flight, which includes preventing armed terrorists from killing the pilot and using the 100-ton vehicle as a weapon of mass destruction.
Perhaps Les is concerned that the weapon will slip out of his hands, go off, and blow a hole through the windscreen, or that a similar scenario will befall some other pilot, I don't know. All I do know is that such incidents don't seem to be happening to anyone else regularly carrying a sidearm, but then, who knows? I suppose they might eventually happen sooner or later, but then, I might also suppose that a wing will fall off sooner or later, and who knows, it might. So what? Can anyone continue to fly oblivious to the resourceful enemies seeking to use our jets as weapons?
Les also misses the point about the reaction to his March "Packing Heat" op-ed, claiming that "most of the feedback came from credible people, i.e., those with professional pilot or law enforcement backgrounds." This arrogant and inept attempt to stifle his opposition by ad hominem disparagement (well, shooting) of the messengers is a rhetorical fallacy that wouldn't get past a freshman composition professor. The inability to think outside one's own narrow range of experience can be hazardous to one's health - and to other, equally credible, people's health.
Common sense should always come first.
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