Cultural Revolutions

To Arm or Not to Arm

To arm pilots or not to arm—that is, apparently, an even more important question than the debate over whether or not we should allow unions, seniority rules, and affirmative action to hamstring every new effort to preserve national security.  George Bush wants a free hand with the unions, but his administration doesn’t want airline pilots to be armed.  Why?  Pilots have another job to do.  But so do most people who carry a gun.  Even policemen spend very little time shooting criminals or defending themselves.

The pilots themselves, for the most part, would like to be armed—and who can blame them?  These are men—most of them former military officers—who are trusted everyday to fly planes worth millions of dollars and to guarantee the safety of hundreds of passengers.  Who better to trust with a firearm?

The simple answer is that the government does not want anyone to be able to defend himself.  This is not because of any sinister plot; it is in the nature of bureaucracy to assume that people are helpless (and more than a little depraved).  As a man and a Texan, President Bush probably likes both guns and the people who like guns, but as a public official, he cannot escape the prejudice (shared by the big-city police chiefs and sheriffs, who are now, for the most part, bureaucrats rather than lawmen) that the people are cattle: They are helpless as...

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