Should Glenn Beck run for President he will not have to worry about an endorsement from the NRA. Today on his radio show Beck discussed the recent controversy involving airport screening procedure. The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has been criticized for making passenger either submit to a full-body scan or a full-body pat down from a TSA agent. According to Beck, we could do away with security all together if we simply allow people with conceal and carry permits to bring guns on a plane.
To be fair Beck is not the first to bring up the “more guns on planes” idea, but he is by far the most prominent proponent. Currently United States Air Marshalls are the only people allowed with guns on planes. A discharged firearm on plane can have potentially disastrous consequences for the entire list of passengers and crew. If a bullet causes the aircraft to suddenly depressurize at high altitudes the entire plane could fail structurally and come crashing to the ground. Beck and his co-host simply mock this scenario, saying no one would dare to actually engage in a fight if they knew there might be someone with a conceal-and-carry permit on board.
Needless to say, there are a number of problems with Beck’s theory.
First, it is not that hard to get a conceal-and-carry permit from a state like Texas. For example, to obtain a concealed handgun permit from Texas one must meet the following requirements:
- Be 21 years old. (Members and former members of the armed forces must be 18.)
- Have a clean criminal history, including military service and recent juvenile records.
- Not be under a protective order.
- Not be chemically dependent.
- Not be of unsound mind.
- Not be delinquent in paying fines, fees, child support, etc.
- Be eligible to purchase a handgun by completing the NICS check.
- Complete required training.
The required training takes about 10-15 hours. Many states allow immigrants to own handguns so one would not need to be a citizen. Al-Queda has successfully recruited a number of United States citizens and legal permanent residents in the United States (as witnessed during the underwear bomb attack and Time Square attack). Now all Al-Queda would have to do in order to get a gun on a plane is go to Texas (or dozens of other states which issue conceal-and-carry permits) and obtain their own permit in order to get a gun on a plane. Then they can literally have their terrorist walk on to a plane with a gun under the law in Beck’s world.
But according to Beck this would not be a problem since other non-terrorists would be able to shoot down the terrorist should he pull out his gun on the plane. There are multiple problems with this assumption. First, Beck assumes that there will be other conceal-and-carry holders on the plane, and that these individuals will have their gun with them at the time. Secondly, Beck assumes that the terrorists care about their lives. As 9-11 demonstrated they do not. A shootout in which they die would perfectly fine with them. In fact, the conceal-and-carry terrorist may not even bother trying to take the plane. Instead, the terrorist may simply do some research and find the weakest part of the plane to shoot so as to bring the whole plane down over a dense population center. Finally, Beck simply assumes that the terrorist would have no chance against the other “Texans” with their conceal-and-carry weapons. In reality, the terrorists could use hostages as human shields. The terrorists would also have a tremendous advantage in any gun fight if they had their weapons out first with all the passengers in view in front of them.
As usual, Beck’s “solution” is not well thought out and full of all kinds of dangerous ramifications. Airport security is by no means perfect in its current state, but Beck would literally bring the “Wild West” to every 747 in America.