Every person has the right to feel safe and secure within their environment. Given this, one often hears arguments concerning the importance of personal safety and how to maintain this in all areas of life. Such arguments range from home defence to how to keep safe on planes. Following the 9/11 attacks and the general increased perception of terrorism around the world, many people argue that increased measures should be taken against the possibility of high-jacking, and that this should include the provision of guns for commercial pilots. While this may seem like a natural idea, the arming of air-line pilots would not be neither cost effective, and neither would it lead to a safer environment for those who travel on planes. It is possible to make this clear by paying attention to both the realities of a terrorist high jacking and to the manner in which the contemporary air-transport industry functions.
One reason why air-port pilots should not be armed involves the amount of legislation, training and bureaucracy which such a measure would involve. Even those who argue for arming pilots state that it would be necessary for the do undergo extensive weapons training, and to become “deputized as law enforcement officers” (ABC, 2015). This would cost air-line companies a large amount of money, something that would inevitably have an impact on ticket prices and would therefore hurt the consumer by forcing them to pay more for their tickets.
Alongside this, it is by no means guaranteed that giving air-line pilots the option to carry guns would make them or the passengers any safer. In order for the guns to make individuals safer then it must be assumed that those wielding them would have training equivalent to any potential high-jackers. Commentators note that such individuals are most often highly trained in both the technical aspects of flight and in military manoeuvres and weaponry (Bergen, 2005). Although those who support the arming pilots insist that any such pilots will undergo weapons training, there is no possibility that this training will match those available to high-jackers (ABC, 2015).
Finally, it is also clear that the mere presence of guns does not guarantee safety, and that it can even be argued to increase the danger for passengers. Although pilots will be trained and deputized as law officers, it is nonetheless the case that law officers frequently resort to the use of deadly force in inappropriate situations. Only this month a man in Miami was shot by a police officer while lying down with his arms out, a situation that argued did not require the use of a gun (Holpuch, 2016). As such, there is no way of guaranteeing that allowing pilots to carry guns will increase passenger safety, and there is significant reason to believe that it will have a negative effect.
Some people may argue that this is a risk worth taking in order to prevent an attack similar to that of 9/11 and to enable pilots to defend themselves. However, statically the odds of a plane on which one is travelling being hijacked are minuscule, and do not outweigh the real dangers of having guns on board. Likewise, if one uses the example of the 9/11 attacks, then one should understand that the key thing to prevent in the case of a high-jacking is other people gaining access to the cock-pit of a plane. Giving pilots guns would do nothing to aid with this, and could even help high-jackers as it would encourage those in the cock-pit to leave it in the event of an attack.
In conclusion, therefore, providing guns to air line pilots will increase ticket prices, encourage the use of force by those who carry them and will do little to increase passenger safety. For this reason, guns should not be supplied to pilots. Rather, it would be more wise to invest in air port security and in making the cock-pit of a plane inaccessible in the case of an attempted high-jacking.
- “Should Airline Pilots Be Armed?” (2015). ABC News. Web. 23rd July, 2016. http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92434&page=1
- Bergen, Peter. (2005). “The Madrassa Myth.” The New York Times. Web. 23Rd July, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/14/opinion/the-madrassa-myth.html
- Holpuch, Amanda. (2016). “Florida police shoot black man lying down with arms up.” Guardian. Web. 23Rd July, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/21/florida-police-shoot-black-man-lying-down-with-arms-in-air