The following article has been re-posted by
permission from Newsmax.com. If you
are not familiar with Newsmax.com, it is our favorite news & opinion journal
on the Internet, with a great variety of topics and authors, and it is updated
at least once daily. We highly recommend you visit their site!
Armed Citizens the Best Defense Against Terrorists
Phil Brennan, Newsmax.com
Saturday Sept. 29, 2001
Ordinary, responsible Americans need to be armed, just as Israelis
are in the war against terrorism, writes author/researcher John R.
Lott Jr., who says that's the only adequate response to the terrorist
threat Americans now face.
Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, Lott notes the security
problems the nation faces and insists that not matter how tight
restrictions are, and no matter how many air marshals ride planes,
nothing beats having an armed citizenry in the fight against
Lott, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and
author of "More Guns, Less Crime" (University of Chicago Press,
2000). itemizes the flaws in most of the security measures now in
effect or being considered:
Screening at airports, while important, will always be inadequate,
he writes, noting that terrorists can always figure find some way
around the controls such as bribing airport employees.
Strengthening cockpit doors, he says, is probably a good idea, "
but given current airline design it may create dangerous
differences in air pressure between the cockpit and cabin. In any
case, the door must be opened sometime, to allow pilots to go to
the bathroom or get food."
The marshals program is more promising. He cites research by
Bill Landes at the University of Chicago that showed that between
a third and a half of the drop in airplane hijackings during the 1970s
were the probable result of having armed U.S. marshals on planes
as well as law enforcement's increased ability to catch and punish
Putting merely one air marshal aboard every daily flight in the U.S.
would require an army of at least 35,000 officers-a far greater
number than total of all those who now work for the FBI, Secret
Service and the U.S. Marshal Service combined (17,000).
Moreover, he adds that one marshal might not be enough to foil a
whole gang of hijackers, of the kind used by Osama bin
Clearly, he says, it will take a long time to deploy enough marshals.
In response to these and other problems, Lott suggests that the
600,000 active state and local law enforcement officers in the U.S.
today who are currently forbidden to bring their guns on airplanes
should not only be allowed to board planes but even be given
discount fares if they fly with their guns. Moreover, since most pilots
have also had military experience they should be armed as their
union, and NewsMax.com's Chris Ruddy have demanded, exactly
as Israel's El Al been doing all along.
Lott dismisses fears of having guns aboard planes, explaining that
the special, high-velocity handgun ammunition used on planes
packs quite a wallop but is designed not to penetrate the aluminum
skin of the plane. Even with regular bullets he notes, the worst-case
outcome would simply be to force the plane to fly at a lower altitude,
where the air pressure is higher.
But using guns to stop terrorists shouldn't be limited to airplanes,
he insists. "We should encourage off-duty police, and responsible
citizens, to carry guns in most public places because cops can't be
In Israel, for example, Lott explains that about 10% of Jewish adults
have permits to carry concealed handguns. Just to match that rate
of permit holding, Americans would have to increase the number of
permits from 3.5 million to almost 21 million, he wrote.
"Thirty-three states currently have "right-to-carry" laws, which allow
the law-abiding to obtain a permit if they are above a certain age
and pay a fee. Half of these states require some training. We
should encourage more states to pass such laws, and possibly
even subsidize firearms training," Lott maintains.
He concludes by noting that the states that do pass concealed
handgun laws "experience drops in violent crimes, especially in
multiple victim shootings - the type of attack most associated with
terrorism. "Bill Landes and I found that deaths and injuries from
multiple-victim public shootings fell by 80% after states passed
Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or
disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.
Thanks for stopping by!