Saturday, August 11, 2007


The Ames Iowa Straw Poll is today--a big event for the Republican Presidential field. Mitt Romney is the only top-tier candidate participating, which means two things: 1) He needs to win big unless he wants some serious questions to be asked about his campaign, and 2) the real excitement is on who places second and thus immediately moves into discussion about whether he should become part of the top-tier conversation.

Ron Paul, surprisingly enough, is one of the people who may very well make a splash at Ames. According to The Fix, he's got a fanatical base of supporters at the poll, and his speech apparently was very well-received. Here was my favorite part:
Paul urged that Roe v. Wade be overturned, proposed the elimination of the departments of Energy and Education and argued that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, "could have been prevented if we had had a lot more respect for the Second Amendment."

Reduced gun control could have stopped 9/11? Really? Is Ron Paul really fantasizing about a shootout on Flight 93? Because I can't think of another way that statement even makes a remote amount of sense. I do recall a Washington Post after the attacks examining how easy it would be for terrorists bearing certain types of arms (specifically, shoulder mounted surface-to-air missiles) to stake out terrain outside of an airport and shoot down an incoming or departing flight. But I don't think that's what Paul had in mind.


Anonymous said...

I believe what Ron Paul meant was that if the airline company was allowed to have security gaurds on the plane and there was no law that said you security gaurds couldn't carry a gun on a plane then maybe they might have had a chance against a couple guys with box cutters. Commonsense really.

Anonymous said...

He was talking about how the government interferes with the Airlines right to set their own security and weapons policies. Pilots were allowed to carry guns up until 1994 and I don't remember hearing about any incidents. And yes, a shootout on flight 93 would have been much better than what ended up happening.

David Schraub said...

Which....would be a gunfight on on airplane. Bullets careening in densely packed, pressurized environments at high altitudes? What could possibly go wrong?

David Schraub said...

I'm reasonably confident there have been incidents of airline terrorism (hijackings, bombings, etc) prior to 1994.

Anonymous said...

david schraub, that's much better than getting hijacked and crashed into a building any way you look at it. And he's not saying that anyone should be allowed to carry a gun onto a plane. He thinks Airlines should have the right to set their own policies since it's their property and they're liable for anything that happens to you. For example, there are special low penetration bullets designed for use by air Marshalls. The airlines could set a policy of letting pilots carry guns so equipped. I would feel more safe not less.

Anonymous said...

david schraub, I meant I've never heard of incidents caused by pilots with guns. The point is that letting them carry isn't likely to cause any problems. I'll bet there's statistically a much greater chance of the plane crashing than somebody getting shot on the plane.

Anonymous said...

It's also a scientific fact that a couple of 9mm holes in 757 fuselage isn't going to cause the plane to depressurize. It's nowhere near airtight.

PG said...

The source is a bit questionable (, but I don't see why it would lie about this:

'A 40-year-old Federal Aviation Administration rule that allowed commercial airline pilots to be armed was inexplicably rescinded two months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, leading aviation security experts to lay at least some of the blame for the tragedy at the feet of airlines, none of which took advantage of the privilege while it was in effect.

The FAA adopted the armed pilot rule shortly after the Cuban missile crisis of 1961 to help prevent hijackings of American airliners. It remained in effect for four decades.

But in July 2001 – just two months prior to the Sept. 11 attacks – the rule was rescinded.

According to FAA officials, the rule required airlines to apply to the agency for their pilots to carry guns in cockpits and for the airlines to put pilots through an agency-approved firearms training course.

The aviation agency said, however, that throughout the life of the rule not a single U.S. air carrier took advantage of it, effectively rendering it "moot," according to one agency official.

"In the past, FAA regulations permitted pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit provided they completed an FAA-approved training program and were trained properly by the airlines," FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto told WND in a voice-mail message. "That was never put into effect because no requests for those training programs were ever made. …"'

If this is true, it's kind of silly for Ron Paul to bitch about private property rights being violated, unless he's so fierce about the airlines being able to do whatever they want that even putting pilots through the FAA program was too great an infringement on liberty.

Unknown said...

I don't know what exactly Ron Paul was proposing, as that quote is a sound-bite, not a policy. But he's obviously playing to the tune of NRA types to the effect of "guns make us safer." The idea being that the "armed populace" on the scene can respond to random acts of violence faster than the police, and thus, act as a deterrent to the perpetrators of such acts. Putting aside the question of whether having guns everywhere has deterred violence in, I don't know, Iraq, this theory fails to take into account how a crowd full of citizen-enforcers tells each other apart from the perp once they've all drawn their gats in response to gunshots. But that's the theory. Very common in libertarian circles.

A side note: Of course the real way to put an end to airplane hijackings is to 1) Get a good solid door for the cockpit. 2) Lock it before passengers are allowed aboard. 3) Don't unlock it until they disembark. But maybe that's too cost-effective and commonsense a solution for the post-9/11 world. Obviously it was too forward thinking for 9/10.