Arming Citizens with Ordinary Tools is Arming Terrorists with.....What Exactly?
Apparently, 9/11 families, flight attendants, and others think it's a bad move on the part of the TSA. According to Corey Caldwell, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, "TSA needs to take a moment to reflect on why they were created in the first place -- after the world had seen how ordinary household items could create such devastation...When weapons are allowed back on board an aircraft, the pilots will be able to land the plane safety but the aisles will be running with blood."
"Ordinary household items". Yes, anything and everything, in the hands of someone with the proper mindset, can be improvised and used to wreck great harm and havoc. "Scissors less than 4 inches in length" is nothing more than a tool. "Screwdrivers less than 7 inches long"- although for the life of me, I don't know why anyone needs to take one on board unless it's to do some maintenance work on the foldout trays- is a tool, no different than the sharpened pencils in your briefcase.
Bob Hesselbein, the Air Line Pilots Association's national security committee chairman, says pilots believe that it is more important to read a person's intent by observing behavior, rather than worry so much about what it is that passengers are carrying. As he puts it, "A Swiss army knife in the briefcase of a frequent flyer we know very well is a tool.....A ballpoint pen in the hands of a terrorist is a weapon." And that's exactly right. I wrote a post before about how the Israelis do it, and the value of profiling behavior.
Right after 9/11, I complained to my dad about the unreasonable ban on such items as taking nail clippers and tweezers aboard airlines. He agreed, that it is an overreaction response. It is similar to how a public school banned plastic bags because a student dies from suffocation; or scissors are banned from school because a troubled kid turns violent. Scissors are a tool. How does one participate in art class without such tools?
I think most people who are outraged by the TSA's decision are not thinking things through clearly and logically. And do not understand that the argument here is rather similar to the ones made for and against the availability of firearms. As it's commonly joked about, "Guns don't kill people anymore than spoons make Rosie O'Donnell fat".
Also, TSA's decision is based upon allocating their limited budget and limited resources intelligently, and not squander it wastefully and unecessarily to give people a false sense of security: "Homeland Security Department officials are increasingly concerned about airports' vulnerability to suicide bomb attacks. TSA officials now want airport screeners to spend more of their time looking for improvised explosive devices rather than sharp objects."
If I were a criminally-minded terrorist seeking to harm passengers, I could just as easily kill you by taking a ball-point pen and ramming it through your eye-socket; or rupture your carotid artery; as a terrorist I would have made it my life's mission to train in violence and know just what body organs to target. I could take the metal pitcher used to serve hot coffee, utilizing both the pitcher and its contents for something other than what it was designed for; or improvise a can of hairspray or perfume as an "offense spray" and eye irritant.
I personally am not afraid of small tools, because that's all that they are: tools. And rest assured, that if terrorists are able to legally bring aboard small knives, even, with blades under 4 inches, they won't be the only ones doing so. I'll bring aboard my own "equalizer". I'm pretty handy with a pair of tweezers and know just where to pinch you! So back off, terrorists!
Firearms, on the other hand are weapons; federal air marshals so armed, might be a good thing; but I'd question the wisdom of mandating airplane pilots to be required to carry one; especially if they are uncomfortable and unmotivated in training diligently in combative handgun use for close-quarters. The whole advantage of a firearm is in its superiority at causing damage from a distance. Aboard plane, much of its weapons' superiority is compromised and a it can be argued that a sharp blade flailing around at lightning speed might overwhelm what is just a "bullet shooter"; that when not aimed at you, other than perhaps a muzzle flash and some powder burns, can't really harm you the way a knife can.
Of course, then there's the issue of stray bullets possibly damaging the hull of the plane. Not sure I like the idea of that...
What happened aboard the 9/11 flights will never happen again. We were caught unawares. We had not anticipated that terrorists would hijack with the goal in mind of not surviving the act of hijacking, and turn airliners into flown missles. In a post-9/11 world, hijackers will find themselves faced outnumbered and overwhelmed by passengers and crewmembers who know that passivity is not the proper response to terrorism. Scissors and screwdrivers or not.