"You shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free"
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Paul Hayden

Extreme Views

July 14, 2002

I am always fascinated to see the lengths to which various extremist groups will go to defend their narrow view of the world, even when it is against their own best interests. One example is the huge wildfires currently raging through the western portion of the United States. The US Forestry Service has been trying for years to remove the dead vegetation fueling these fires. Guess what? Wacko environmental groups have tied them up with hundreds of lawsuits. The result? The very forests the tree-huggers say they want to protect are now being ravaged as a direct result of these lawsuits.

The abortion lobby acts with the same lack of common sense. (Yes, they have highly-paid lobbyists. After all abortion is a multi-million dollar business.) The pro-death people (they prefer to be called pro-choice, but let’s call them what they really are) refuse to give an inch in their zeal to kill unborn children. Even when defending the absolutely indefensible, partial-birth abortion, they cling tenaciously to the “woman’s right to choose." According to them, a doctor must be allowed to murder a baby if any part of his or her body is still inside the mother. Many healthy babies who have already drawn their first breaths have been slaughtered in this way. (For a more detailed treatment of this subject, read What A Difference A Minute Makes.)

On September 11, 2001, we all saw the results of the anti-gun lobby’s efforts to disarm America. These extremists lobbied successfully to disarm commercial airline pilots. If their attempt had failed, I doubt seriously that the four airliners hijacked that day would have been taken over by Islamic terrorists. You see, not so long ago, it was very common for airline pilots to carry handguns in the cockpit. I’ll bet you didn’t know that. Our liberal news media made sure you didn’t hear what I am about to tell you.

Until late in 1987, commercial pilots had carried small arms as a matter of course on their aircraft. There was never a problem. Most airline pilots receive their flight training in our armed forces, so they are well-trained in the safe use of firearms. But in 1987, a suicidal passenger broke into the cockpit of an airliner, killed the pilots and crashed the airplane. Following that incident, something happened that was even more insane than the actions of that murderer. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) took exactly the opposite action of what any sensible citizen would have done. They disarmed the pilots, and made them go through metal detectors before boarding their planes! Following that idiotic decision, there was absolutely no question that eventually terrorists would accept the gift of defenseless planes and crash one.

In July of 2001, intelligence agencies received dozens of reports that al-Qaeda terrorists would soon attack an airliner. The FAA’s reaction? They immediately proceeded to remove an obscure rule that no airline was taking advantage of, which allowed individual airlines to arm their pilots. They completed the process of removing the only legal way for pilots to defend the passengers in their care in September, 2001 - just a week before the Attacks on America.

How ironic that the anti-gun extremists’ greatest victory came just days before the folly of their position became so terribly evident.

On July 12, 2002, I watched Capt. Dennis Miller, the Vice-president of the Airline Pilot’s Association, ably defend the position of the vast majority of airline pilots on FOX News Live. He stated that 73% of airline pilots want to carry firearms to defend their aircraft. His association’s position is that the 27% who do not wish to be armed would not be given the required training. Virtually every other pilot’s association agrees with this position, including the Airline Pilots’ Security Alliance (APSA), the Allied Pilots’ Association (APA), the Coalition of Airline Pilots’ Associations (CAPA), the Air Line Pilots’ Association (ALPA) and the Independent Pilots’ Association (IPA).

The FBI agreed. That agency produced its Cockpit Protection Program (CPP) and the Special Operations and Research (SOAR) report in December, 2001. Both studies strongly recommended arming pilots. The SOAR report went further, stating unequivocally that Tasers and Stun Guns should not be relied upon to defend the cockpit of an airliner.

The president agreed. On November 19, 2001, President Bush signed into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), making it possible once again for pilots to be armed. However, anti-Second Amendment forces had called in political favors and diluted the Act so that this could only go into effect if the FAA and the airlines approved.

The vast majority of the public, as poll after poll proved, agreed. Americans, even liberals, are capable of making common sense decisions where their safety is concerned. There must have been a lot of liberals who answered with a resounding “Yes!” to all those polls about arming pilots, or we wouldn’t have seen such high poll numbers. After all, as they say, a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. Our whole country, liberals and conservatives alike, was mugged by the terrorists. And liberals and conservatives agreed that it was important for pilots to be able to defend passengers, since the government was unwilling or unable to do so.

Guess who disagreed? That’s right, the FAA. You have to wonder who in that agency is receiving bribes from the anti-gun lobby. That is the only possibility that makes any sense, when almost everyone in the nation overwhelming favors a sensible program of arming pilots that could save tens of thousands of lives.

Well, Congress is going to have to make the difference, since the FAA administrators show no signs of taking their heads out of the sand. The House voted just last week to take the matter out of the hands of these bumbling bureaucrats. Interestingly, 73% of the Representatives voted in favor of the bill, exactly the same as the number of pilots who favor defensive weapons in the cockpit.

Now it is up to the Senate to complete the return to common sense. You can do your part to encourage your Senators to do the right thing. Go to our website, ConservativeTruth.org and look toward the bottom of the left column for the “Contact Congress” box. Enter your zip code and follow the instructions.

The program proposed by the FBI and the airline pilots makes eminent good sense. It is completely voluntary and includes screening and training by a federal agency. Since over 65% of airline pilots are ex-military officers, training should be simple. Firearms would be used only as a last resort, the final line of defense of the cockpit when terrorists have broken through the cockpit door. Aviation and firearms experts should select specific firearms and ammunition.

There are a few strident voices that say airline pilots cannot be trusted with firearms. Friends, we trust our lives to these well-trained men and women every time we board an airliner. Certainly there are risks involved with the use of firearms on any aircraft. But which would you rather face? The small risk that a stray bullet might hit a vital component of the aircraft? Or the certainty that a fighter pilot will be ordered to shoot down the aircraft you are on if it is taken over by terrorists?

Here’s an irony for you. Many airline pilots serve as military reserve pilots. There is a very real possibility that someday an airline pilot whom the FAA would not trust to defend his cockpit with a safe handgun may be flying a fighter escorting an airliner that has been taken over by Arab terrorists. He may be ordered to shoot down a plane piloted by a fellow reservist to save thousands of people on the ground. We can trust these pilots with missiles, but not with a handgun? It is ludicrous, even for the anti-gun fanatics, not to see this for what it is: lunacy.

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Copyright ©2002 Tom Barrett

Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

He has written thousands of articles that have been republished in national newspapers and on hundreds of websites, and is a frequent guest on radio and television shows. His weekly Conservative Truth article (which is read by 250,000) offers a unique viewpoint on social, moral and political issues from a Biblical worldview. This has resulted in invitations to speak internationally at churches, conferences, Money Shows, universities, and on TV (including the 700 Club).

“Dr. Tom,” as his readers and followers affectionately refer to him, has a passion for teaching, as you can see from his ministry website (www.ChristianFinancialConcepts.com); his patriotic site (www.ConservativeTruth.org); and his business site (www.GoldenArtTreasures.com). Tom's friend Dr. Lance Wallnau wrote of him, "Tom Barrett is a Renaissance man with a passion for subject matter ranging from finance to theology and American history."
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