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Judges Kozinski, Kleinfeld, and Rawlinson Weigh in on the Second Amendment on Airplanes:

From U.S. v. Davis (Nov. 21) (unpublished and unsigned); recall that Judges Kozinski and Kleinfeld endorsed the individual rights view of the Second Amendment even before D.C. v. Heller (in their dissents from denial of rehearing en banc in Silveira v. Lockyer, and in Judge Kleinfeld's similar dissent in Nordyke v. King):

We affirm James S. Davis's conviction and sentence for fraud and carrying a concealed weapon on an airplane. Davis got through security with a handgun underneath his jacket because he impersonated a federal Customs Agent.

Davis challenges the constitutionality of 49 U.S.C. § 46505, relying on District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008). The Supreme Court specified that nothing in that opinion was intended to cast doubt on the prohibition of concealed weapons in sensitive places. Id. at 2816-17....

Steve2:
Professor Volokh, I'm just curious, does the opinion indicate that Davis might have had more success had he not violated 18 U.S.C. § 912 in order to get his gun onto the plane?
11.25.2008 7:22pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The one thing that was assured before, during and after Heller was that Second Amendment challenges to "gun free zones" where a federal judge might be located were not going to be successful.
11.25.2008 7:40pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Well before those cases, Judge Kozinski made his position on the Second Amendment clear, in Footnote 7 in U.S. v. Gomez, 92 F.3d 770 (1996) (Felon-in-possession entitled to present justification defense when US failed to protect him from thug felon had informed on.)

7 Indeed, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) might not pass constitutional muster were it not subject to a justification defense. The Second Amendment embodies the right to defend oneself and one's home against physical attack. Nelson Lund, The Second Amendment, Political Liberty, and the Right to Self-Preservation, 39 Ala. L. Rev. 103, 117-120, 130 (1987) (Second Amendment guarantees right to means of self-defense); see Sanford Levinson, The Embarrassing Second Amendment, 99 Yale L.J. 637, 645-46 (1989) ("It seems tendentious to reject out of hand the argument that one purpose of the [Second] Amendment was to recognize an individual's right to engage in armed self-defense against criminal conduct."). In modern society, the right to armed self-defense has become attenuated as we rely almost exclusively on organized societal responses, such as the police, to protect us from harm. See Levinson, 99 Yale L.J. at 656 ("One can argue that the rise of a professional police force to enforce the law has made irrelevant, and perhaps even counterproductive, the continuation of a strong notion of self-help as the remedy for crime."). The possession of firearms may therefore be regulated, even prohibited, because we are "compensated" for the loss of that right by the availability of organized societal protection. The tradeoff becomes more dubious, however, when a citizen makes a particularized showing that the organs of government charged with providing that protection are unwilling or unable to do so. See Lund, 39 Ala. L. Rev. at 123 ("The fundamental right to self-preservation, together with the basic postulate of liberal theory that citizens only surrender their natural rights to the extent that they are recompensed with more effective political rights, requires that every gun control law be justified in terms of the law's contribution to the personal security of the entire citizenry."). At that point, the Second Amendment might trump a statute prohibiting the ownership and possession of weapons that would be perfectly constitutional under ordinary circumstances. Allowing for a meaningful justification defense ensures that 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) does not collide with the Second Amendment.

I got a kick out of the concurrences:

HALL, Circuit Judge, concurring:

I concur in Judge Kozinski's opinion, with the exception of footnote 7, which I do not join because it directly conflicts with our holding in Hickman v. Block, 81 F.3d 98, 101 (9th Cir. 1996) (holding that "the Second Amendment is a right held by the states, and does not protect the possession of a weapon by a private citizen").


HAWKINS, Circuit Judge, concurring:

I concur in all of Judge Kozinski's excellent opinion save for footnote 7, which alludes to an interesting and difficult question I would leave for another day.
11.25.2008 7:41pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
Does anybody here take the position that the Second Amendment allows people to take concealed guns onto airplanes?
11.25.2008 7:54pm
therut (mail):
Oh, I do not know. Back in the 1960's in ancient time I think it was "allowed". Maybe there is something wrong with our society today. It is not firearms it is US.
11.25.2008 8:13pm
_quodlibet_:
>>491870

Does anybody here take the position that the Second Amendment allows people to take concealed guns onto airplanes?

"Allows"? The Bill of Rights doesn't grant permission for people to do certain actions -- it prohibits the gov't from violating certain rights.

And yes, I do think that the Second Amendment, properly understood, would prohibit the federal gov't from outlawing the carrying of firearms onto commercial airplanes. Of course, the airlines, as private businesses, are free to prohibit their customers from carrying arms aboard their planes.
11.25.2008 8:31pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"And yes, I do think that the Second Amendment, properly understood, would prohibit the federal gov't from outlawing the carrying of firearms onto commercial airplanes."


Can you sketch this out a bit?

For example, I'm at a loss as to how any originalist approach (original public meaning, or some such) would shed much light on the problem, given that there were no such things as airplanes at the time of the framing. What other approach do you take to support your position?

Second, if you're not willing to grant this particular exception, are there any federal restrictions on the right to bear arms that are permissible under the Second Amendment? Or is it literally absolute, in your opinion?
11.25.2008 8:50pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Back in the 1960's in ancient time I think it was 'allowed'."


Perhaps in the sense that there was no federal law against it? (I.e. not that a court had said such laws would be prohibited under the Second Amendment.)

But then there was that spate of hijackings in the 70s, which probably had something to do with it.
11.25.2008 8:58pm
PersonFromPorlock:
I think my rather cynical earlier take on Heller is turning out to be sadly accurate: "The Second Amendment guarantees an individual right. So?"
11.25.2008 9:14pm
Tim Torrent (www):
I have 2 problems with this footnote
1) it relies not upon actual physics, but Hollywood physics
2) it suggests that police can and will protect society, despite court after court finding no legal duty to do so.

The notion that guns are especially dangerous on airplanes is a falsity perpetuated by movies. Simply put, a bullet is sufficient to cause cabin de-pressurization, but it certainly doesn't blow a gaping hole out of the plane that sucks everyone out. Even then, once the initial hole is made, the pressure equalizes and the "vacuum" is gone. The force of the air molecules at 500 mph rubbing against the hole simply can't rip the rest of the airplane open. Think about holding an open soda can out the window of your car while on the highway. Not only does your slightly cracked window not blow your car to pieces, even facing the can directly into the 60+ mph winds doesn't make the can fall apart. I'm not sure it needs to be said, but I think it's safe to say that airplane hulls are substantially stronger than soda cans.

And if your fear is of a gunman taking out the pilot, that's also misplaced. For years, commercial airliners have been able to take off, fly their course, and land, all without a pilot. After 9-11, if someone was to start seriously misbehaving on an airplane, you can be sure that civilians would take the perp out. In fact, that's exactly what happened to the fourth plane on 9-11. The notion that we shouldn't have any right to protect ourselves and loved ones is further hindered by the fact that negligence case after negligence case has shown that police have no legal duty to protect citizens. After civilians have repeatedly called 911, police have failed to arrest a perp long after there was PC for an arrest, and then the same perps have victimized the 911-dialers. At the wrongful death suits, the courts find no duty, so even a gross failure to act is not even ordinary negligence. And that assumes that you've been able to get around 11th amendment immunity.

The fear of silencers is also based on Hollywood physics instead of reality. Military grade silencers suppress 30 dB of sound at the barrel — regular ear protection that shooters also use is about 30 dB suppressed at the ear. That means that a "silenced" gun will have almost the same loudness as an unsilenced gun while you're wearing earmuffs. A gunshot will run 140+ dB. That means a "silenced" gun will produce 110 dB of sound. Anything over 85 dB can cause noise induced hearing loss. A silenced gunshot is certainly not that little "piew" you hear on TV.

And if you do think that our legislators know the objective facts behind guns when they propose anti-gun legislation, look only to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY-D), who attempted to prohibit barrel shrouds when she didn't even know what they are (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rGpykAX1fo).

The Discovery Channel's Mythbusters actually debunk a ton of gun myths (among them, they debunked the gunshot on a plane = total destruction myth). It seems that a lot of anti-gun policies are based not on reality, but on fear of what happens in the movies.
11.25.2008 10:09pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"After 9-11, if someone was to start seriously misbehaving on an airplane, you can be sure that civilians would take the perp out. In fact, that's exactly what happened to the fourth plane on 9-11."


I don't think this works in favor of your argument.
11.25.2008 10:20pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I always wished someone would start a knife collectors' airline. A gun really isn't the perfect weapon in those quarters. But hijackers would certainly have to consider whether to hijack a plane where, about two seconds after their intentions became clear, it'd look like a bomb went off in a tomato paste factory.
11.25.2008 10:37pm
zippypinhead:
Kozinski and Kleinfeld are about as far from Brady Campaign contributors as you'll find on the Federal appellate bench. But they easily appreciated the teaching of Justice Scalia's limiting dicta in Heller that clearly permits sensitive locations -- like commercial aircraft -- to be exempt from whatever Second Amendment right to bear arms outside the home that might otherwise exist (an issue beyond Heller that is yet to be resolved).

Why anyone who claims to have read Heller is surprised at this holding -- or that the Davis panel thought it so unremarkable that the opinion isn't even published -- is a mystery to me.

But even knowing there's little likelihood of catastrophic decompression, as I read this post I had a flashback to the famous Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) line from Hunt for Red October: "Hey, Ryan, be careful what you shoot at. Most things in here don't react too well to bullets."
11.25.2008 11:08pm
Obvious (mail):
Mahan Alta: ""After 9-11, if someone was to start seriously misbehaving on an airplane, you can be sure that civilians would take the perp out. In fact, that's exactly what happened to the fourth plane on 9-11."


I don't think this works in favor of your argument."

Actually, had the civilians on the fourth plane on 9/11 had guns, the outcome would have been very different, and would perfectly in favor of the original argument.
11.25.2008 11:23pm
Obvious (mail):
One of the problems with thinking about history is this "victors write the history books" problem that makes so many people seemingly unable to handle simple counterfactuals.

For SEVERAL DECADES it was COMMONPLACE to put your long guns in the overhead rack next to your luggage, and to carry guns in your purse or briefcase under the seat in front of you. Hundreds of millions of flight-miles. No known problems. Then there were a couple of hi-jackings in the 1970s. None, sadly, in which any of the passengers had their own guns aboard.

The response from politicians more concerned about appeasing a frightened public than engaging in careful analysis was to prohibit carrying guns on planes. 9/11 proved how safe this made us all. Yet in a free society we can't allow any airline the option of providing "gun carrying" flights any more than we can allow "smoking only" flights. Simply too mind-grippingly frightening for too many people to think that others might be allowed to engage in choices they disagree with.
11.25.2008 11:31pm
zippypinhead:
Actually, had the civilians on the fourth plane on 9/11 had guns, the outcome would have been very different...

Too simplistic by half. If passenger carry on aircraft had been authorized, the hijackers on all 4 planes also would have had guns instead of box cutters. Probably full-auto. And stun grenades. And Kevlar. And whatever else they would have needed to achieve their original goal in the face of this minor complication.

...even tho I believe the Second Amendment RKBA logically should extend to general carry, in this case having a few passenger firearms on the planes probably would have changed some of the hijackers' plan details, not the ultimate plan itself.
11.25.2008 11:37pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

I'm at a loss as to how any originalist approach (original public meaning, or some such) would shed much light on the problem, given that there were no such things as airplanes at the time of the framing.

Airplanes, like ships, have captains who are in charge of craft, crew, cargo, and passengers. Marine practice at the time should be ascertainable.
11.26.2008 12:49am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Airplanes, like ships, have captains who are in charge of craft, crew, cargo, and passengers."


Unlike ships, airplanes are pressurized, can fall out of the sky, and are packed with people like sardines.

Additionally, they can be flown into buildings.
11.26.2008 1:11am
Gene Hoffman (mail) (www):
It is quite clear that many people do not understand the true concept of deterrence. The Prisoners Dilemma really does apply to certain situations in life. The neat thing about that is that the aggressor is the one who isn't even sure whether he's playing or not.

-Gene
11.26.2008 2:45am
Don Miller (mail) (www):

Unlike ships, airplanes are pressurized, can fall out of the sky, and are packed with people like sardines.


It takes more than a bullet hole to make an airplane "fall out of the sky"

That said,

When talk of a voluntary national ID card was going around, I would tell all of my friends that we already have a voluntary national ID card, its that little blue book that we all affectionately refer to as our Passport.

I take the position that possession of a valid US Passport at the security checkpoint should allow me carry a personal weapon on the airplane. If it is a firearm, the US Government would have the right regulate that I use frangible bullets on the aircraft (less chance of damaging the plane). What greater deterrence to hijacking could there be than having 10% of the passengers armed. I assume not everyone would go to the hassle of 1. getting a passport 2. carrying it on every flight 3. bringing along a weapon if they do so.
11.26.2008 9:16am
pintler:

For SEVERAL DECADES it was COMMONPLACE to put your long guns in the overhead rack next to your luggage, and to carry guns in your purse or briefcase under the seat in front of you. Hundreds of millions of flight-miles. No known problems.


I have a relative that was a newbie commercial pilot in the late 1980's. According to him, is was common for the grizzled old salts to have a gun in their chart case, and that for many years it was in fact required that pilots flying the mails be armed (a throwback, perhaps, to the days of carrying the mail in a stagecoach).

During the post 9/11 'should pilots be armed' debates I have heard it said that pilots were first forbidden to carry guns only a short time before 9/11.
11.26.2008 10:01am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
What greater deterrence to hijacking could there be than having 10% of the passengers armed. I assume not everyone would go to the hassle of 1. getting a passport 2. carrying it on every flight 3. bringing along a weapon if they do so.

Effective screening and trained sky marshals. It scares the hell out of me that a bunch of untrained civilians would be allowed on planes armed with the potential of opening fire on some swarthy looking fellow with a bad case of Montezuma's revenge. I will take my chances with being hijacked rather than having a bunch of wanna be heroes like Don Miller and Tom Torrent randomly firing at 30,000 feet.

For SEVERAL DECADES it was COMMONPLACE to put your long guns in the overhead rack next to your luggage, and to carry guns in your purse or briefcase under the seat in front of you. Hundreds of millions of flight-miles. No known problems. Then there were a couple of hi-jackings in the 1970s. None, sadly, in which any of the passengers had their own guns aboard.

This paragraph contradicts itself. I doubt it was as commonplace as you think.
11.26.2008 10:09am
Karan Singh (mail):
J.F. Thomas wins with the funniest post of the day . . .obviously based on the "bloodbaths" to be seen in the shall-issue CCW states.
11.26.2008 10:40am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
J.F. Thomas wins with the funniest post of the day . . .obviously based on the "bloodbaths" to be seen in the shall-issue CCW states.

There is zero evidence that ccw rates are any higher after shall-issue laws are passed. I doubt that shall-issue changes behavior one bit, it just legitimizes those who would carry a gun regardless of what the law says.

As for blood baths, there is no clear correlation between gun laws and crime rates. As a matter of fact, the states with the highest murder and violent crime rates tend to be those with liberal gun laws while cities with vastly different attitudes towards guns and similar demographics (e.g., Dallas and Chicago) often have almost identical crime rates. New Orleans, which is in a state that has shall-issue, is the most violent city in the country by far.
11.26.2008 10:54am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"It is quite clear that many people do not understand the true concept of deterrence."


How well does deterrence work against people who are willing to commit suicide as a part of their plan?
11.26.2008 10:58am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"It takes more than a bullet hole to make an airplane "fall out of the sky"


Sure. For example, you can shoot the pilots.

You can shoot the captain of a ship, and in all likelihood, that isn't going to cause the boat to sink.
11.26.2008 11:00am
pintler:

I doubt that shall-issue changes behavior one bit, it just legitimizes those who would carry a gun regardless of what the law says.


The permit holders you know seem quite different from the ones I know.
11.26.2008 12:20pm
Steve in CT:

It scares the hell out of me that a bunch of untrained civilians would be allowed on planes armed with the potential of opening fire on some swarthy looking fellow with a bad case of Montezuma's revenge. I will take my chances with being hijacked rather than having a bunch of wanna be heroes like Don Miller and Tom Torrent randomly firing at 30,000 feet.


I think you've expressed your opinion before that armed civilians scare the hell out of you no matter where you are. Regarding randomly firing, ~11% of police shootings kill an innocent person - about 2% of shootings by citizens kill an innocent person.*


There is zero evidence that ccw rates are any higher after shall-issue laws are passed. I doubt that shall-issue changes behavior one bit, it just legitimizes those who would carry a gun regardless of what the law says.


Are you comparing states switching from 'may issue' to 'shall issue' or 'no issue' to 'shall issue'? You are claiming that law abiding citizens commonly carry firearms illegally when there is no legal recourse? Where are you finding these facts, the Brady Campaign?


As for blood baths, there is no clear correlation between gun laws and crime rates.


As anyone can pick their favorite statisticians to bolster their argument, I will not bother to disagree. However, while I would say that in absence of evidence we should default towards more freedom, you would claim we just need more laws restricting the rights of the law abiding, since criminals do not concern themselves with following the law.

*C. Cramer, and D. Kopel "Shall Issue: The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws”. Independence
Institute Issue Paper. October 17, 1994
11.26.2008 12:50pm
RobinGoodfellow:
<blockquote>
Mahan Atma

How well does deterrence work against people who are willing to commit suicide as a part of their plan?
</blockquote>

A terrorist is willing to give his life in the pursuit of his goal. The fact that he is willing to die for his goal does not mean that he is just as willing to die <i>if the likelihood of achieving his goal is greatly reduced</i>. IMO, having armed passengers greatly reduces the likelihood that the terrorist will succeed, particularly in a post-9/11 world. There's your deterrence.
11.26.2008 12:52pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
~11% of police shootings kill an innocent person - about 2% of shootings by citizens kill an innocent person.*

So 98% of the time citizens miss or don't kill anybody?

I think I know what you are saying but I think Kopel is probably cherry picking statistics. He probably means that 2% of killings by ccw permit holders in situations where they are actually carrying a concealed weapon are of innocent people--that is they are found to be unjustified. Whether or not these statistics are meaningful, especially considering the relatively small number of people killed by ccw holders and the reluctance of prosecutors to indict those who do kill someone who may have been attempting to commit a crime, even if the use of force was excessive, is another question.

You are claiming that law abiding citizens commonly carry firearms illegally when there is no legal recourse?

I am claiming that we don't know, and as far as I know nobody knows, what the concealed carry rate is before and after such laws are passed. If any of you gun nuts can enlighten me with actual statistics (e.g., that in Texas before shall issue x% of the population regularly carried a concealed weapon, now x+y% carries a concealed weapon), I would be fascinated to know what they are.
11.26.2008 2:29pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The permit holders you know seem quite different from the ones I know.

Yeah well, it seems like nobody on this board knows any irresponsible gun owners. Amazing, isn't it.
11.26.2008 2:31pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Regarding randomly firing, ~11% of police shootings kill an innocent person - about 2% of shootings by citizens kill an innocent person."


An airplane is jam packed full of people. Hardly the same thing as firing a gun on a street corner.
11.26.2008 4:16pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"A terrorist is willing to give his life in the pursuit of his goal. The fact that he is willing to die for his goal does not mean that he is just as willing to die if the likelihood of achieving his goal is greatly reduced."


Apparently many terrorists are willing to sacrifice their lives even when "success" is highly uncertain. Something tells me they aren't making the kind of precise, rational calculations you attribute to them.

That's to say nothing about whether their chance of success would really be "greatly reduced" by letting civilians take guns on planes (especially if that includes the terrorists).

Seriously, people... good grief.
11.26.2008 4:38pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

~11% of police shootings kill an innocent person - about 2% of shootings by citizens kill an innocent person.*

So 98% of the time citizens miss or don't kill anybody?

I think I know what you are saying but I think Kopel is probably cherry picking statistics. He probably means that 2% of killings by ccw permit holders in situations where they are actually carrying a concealed weapon are of innocent people--that is they are found to be unjustified. Whether or not these statistics are meaningful, especially considering the relatively small number of people killed by ccw holders and the reluctance of prosecutors to indict those who do kill someone who may have been attempting to commit a crime, even if the use of force was excessive, is another question.
Uh, no. Those were comparisons for all uses of guns in self-defense, not just concealed carry. Here's the actual quote from our paper:


Another study examined newspaper reports of gun incidents in Missouri, involving police or civilians. In this study, civilians were successful in wounding, driving off, capturing criminals 83% of the time, compared with a 68% success rate for the police. Civilians intervening in crime were slightly less likely to be wounded than were police. Only 2% of shootings by civilians, but 11% of shootings by police, involved an innocent person mistakenly thought to be a criminal. [145]


1. Police, because they usually arrive at the scene of a crime after the crime is well under way, often have no idea who the bad guys are, and who the victims are. Victims don't usually have that problem. During CCW training in California, our instructor showed us a film that dramatizes the complexity of figuring out who is the criminal, and who is the victim--with the objective of reminding us that you should be very, very wary of drawing a weapon under those conditions, and even more wary of opening fire unless it is EXTREMELY clear.

2. Police are required to intervene in situations where civilians are not. This necessarily increases the number of mistakes that police mistake relative to civilians.
11.26.2008 7:22pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


You are claiming that law abiding citizens commonly carry firearms illegally when there is no legal recourse?


I am claiming that we don't know, and as far as I know nobody knows, what the concealed carry rate is before and after such laws are passed. If any of you gun nuts can enlighten me with actual statistics (e.g., that in Texas before shall issue x% of the population regularly carried a concealed weapon, now x+y% carries a concealed weapon), I would be fascinated to know what they are.
I can tell you that before I had a California concealed carry permit, I very, very seldom carried a gun on me--and the vast majority of the time that I did so, I was carrying openly in those areas where that was legal. (And the circumstances where I did not were definitely the "better to be judged by twelve than carried by six" cases.) After I received a permit, I carried, if not daily, at least several times a week.

Why did I change my habits? It is true that the chances of a law-abiding adult being arrested in California while carrying concealed without a permit were very, very small. But the consequences were severe. I've never been arrested. I've never spent a night in jail. That's a pretty intimidating prospect. If convicted (which would be a near certainty), the minimum sentence was three months in jail, and the legal costs would be substantial. Is that a good enough reason to take a small risk of being a victim of crime? I'm afraid so.

Now, if J.F. Thomas is saying that that most law-abiding adults before shall-issue weren't afraid of being arrested and convicted of a misdemeanor, I am forced to conclude that he is thinking of people who are used to being arrested, jailed, and spending time in the court system. But those sorts usually don't qualify for permits.
11.26.2008 7:33pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


The permit holders you know seem quite different from the ones I know.



Yeah well, it seems like nobody on this board knows any irresponsible gun owners. Amazing, isn't it.
I have certainly met a few irresponsible gun owners. But I will tell you that they are completely and utterly overwhelmed by the responsible gun owners that I know. And I can prove that this is generally true. About 40% of American homes have a gun in them--so figure that about 75 million people have, or could have access to a gun if they wanted to do so. (And that means that kids growing up in homes with "irresponsible gun owners" have access.)

So why is that the criminal misuse of guns is relatively tiny, and disproportionately concentrated in a few easily identifiable groups? Convicted felons; the mentally ill; minors who are already committing felonies as part of gang activity. Pretty clearly, the vast majority of Americans with access to guns don't misuse them, or this whole country would be like a few urban neighborhoods.
11.26.2008 7:37pm
John Skookum (mail):
During the post 9/11 'should pilots be armed' debates I have heard it said that pilots were first forbidden to carry guns only a short time before 9/11.

There was a tragedy in the late 1980's, I think, when a disgruntled PSA employee used his employee ID to bypass security with a gun, hijack the plane, and fly it into the ground.

Before that, if you recall, the flight crew routinely bypassed security. I don't think there was any Federal rule against their going armed, though it may well have violated company policy.

Until the mid 1960's, pilots whose planes were carrying US mail were supposed to be carrying a .38 revolver. Some did, most didn't.

In the pre-Sep. 11 days, I once was registering a pistol in my checked baggage at a busy counter, when the harried clerk handed me a law enforcement pass that would have allowed me to carry it on my person through the security checkpoint. I had a high-and-tight haircut and was dressed in a suit, so I guess she took me for a G-man. It would have been illegal, even then, but I was tempted!
11.26.2008 8:01pm
zippypinhead:
In the pre-Sep. 11 days, I once was registering a pistol in my checked baggage at a busy counter, when the harried clerk handed me a law enforcement pass that would have allowed me to carry it on my person through the security checkpoint. I had a high-and-tight haircut and was dressed in a suit, so I guess she took me for a G-man.
Federal agents carrying firearms onto commercial flights used to not be a very big deal, but how times have changed! Nowadays some of my Federal LE friends tell me that quite a number of sworn Federal agents simply won't carry on a commercial aircraft, between the hassle factor they have to endure before boarding, and the rules that apply after they're on board (e.g., no napping allowed while armed). They all made sure to be armed while flying right after 9-11, but eventually the TSA and airline bureaucratic nightmares overcame their patriotic and/or self-preservation instincts. Too bad, given the low odds that there's actually an air marshal on any given flight.

TSA and the airlines have a very different attitude than, for example, a fairly small commuter railroad in the D.C. metropolitan area (15 trains each rush hour) that gives free passes to non-uniformed agents who agree to carry while commuting (apparently the passes have a marking that lets conductors know who to call on in an emergency). Last I heard they had over 130 people from a bunch of Federal and state/local agencies signed up in their program.
11.26.2008 10:50pm
Tim Torrent (www):
I will take my chances with being hijacked rather than having a bunch of wanna be heroes like Don Miller and Tom Torrent randomly firing at 30,000 feet.


I'm not untrained. I've broken more clay pigeons than miles you've flown. I rank in handgun competitions all the time. Even then, it's much easier to wound/kill a human at 25 feet than it is to hit inside a half-inch wide bullseye at 25 feet.

The "restrict guns because people aren't trained" argument is incredibly circular. If you continue to push gun laws so that more harmless behavior is unlawful, aren't people in general going to be less trained -- which under your logic warrants less possession? Wouldn't you rather have 20+ trained people carrying on a 200 person plane than one or two sky marshalls?

And the reason why us "heroes" would take out any wannabe perps on a plane is because it's clear that these guys don't care about their own lives. They're going up there to crash the plane. That means when a terrorist takes control, you have 2 options:
1) sit there and let them crash the plane (100% probability that you and everyone else on the plane dies),
OR
2) fight to get control back (possibility of taking out the terrorists).
In a situation like that, I'll take the latter any day, because if you don't try, you're dead. Further, if you don't try, anyone in the building that the terrorists plan to crash into is also going to die. So by you sitting there and hoping that a single sky marshall would save the day, you're putting the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people in the hands of a single man. I'm an American, and I'd rather not have him do it alone.

As for your statistics, that's nonsense. Read up on DC and NYC's crime rates, and how they have the strictest gun laws in the nation. VT has the least restrictive gun laws in the nation (any non-felon can carry concealed without a permit) and it has by far one of the lowest crime rates in the nation. Look at Australia's gun ban, where crime rates went up immediately after the ban, and then the AIC was ordered not to release any more statistics on the matter. If you put in a controversial piece of legislation and statistics were readily available to show how effective your legislation was, wouldn't you want to show everyone "look, I was right." But instead, the only number still released is the number of suicide deaths by firearm, and yes, that's fallen, but the number of suicides overall stayed flat because these people just picked different methods to off themselves with.

But denying facts is not new to the anti-gun lobby. Prof Volokh criticized Obama's new AG, Eric Holder (http://volokh.com/posts/1227228105.shtml) for claiming that Elian Gonzalez was not taken at gun point -- despite this picture (http://www.bizzyblog.com/wp-images/INSelianGonzalezGun.jpg) that he clearly was.
11.27.2008 11:35am