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147

THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 147, November 12, 2001
1 + 2 = FREE

House Blocks Vast New Airport Bureaucracy

by Vin Suprynowicz
vin@lvrj.com

Special to TLE

The House of Representatives voted 286-139 on Nov. 1 to give the federal government a more direct role in airport security -- while blocking by a narrower 218-214 vote a Democratic Senate initiative which seeks to eliminate private security contractors entirely, replacing them with an estimated 28,000 unionized federal employees. That would have "created the biggest bureaucracy in the history of a generation," in the words of Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.

Care to figure out how easy it would be to reform or replace this system once powerful government employee unions are installed at the X-ray machines? Just try to fight the teachers unions for any reform of our current, dumbed-down public schools, or to take on the prison guards' unions with proposals to thin out prison populations by decriminalizing various forms of non-violent consensual commerce.

The two differing airport security bills now go to a conference committee, with Democrats squawking this will delay by weeks reforms which are needed to "restore Americans' confidence in flying" following the execrable performance of the current Fred & Ethel Mertz Security System on Sept. 11.

Well, it's already been weeks since Sept. 11. And what's really going to take time is recruiting and training the tens of thousands of new "air marshals" called for in both versions of the current airport security bill. Mind you, a potential for armed response is what's really needed. Metal detectors don't catch plastic knives or box cutters. And passenger screenings can do nothing to stop infiltration of arms or explosives onto planes by the legions of minimum-wage janitors who vacuum them out at night, or contract caterers who load on the sandwiches and the soda pop.

Fortunately, the Bill of Rights mandates a quicker and more effective solution. Though the heroic passengers of Flight 93, like Jeremy Glick, joked with their wives via cell phone that they were armed with nothing more than "my plastic butter knife from breakfast" as they sacrificed their lives to bring down a hijacked plane that most now agree was intended to destroy either the Capitol or the White House, they were acting as a citizen militia at the time they sprang into action. And it is precisely to guarantee that the citizen militia will never be disabled from protecting the security of this "free state" that the Second and 14th Amendments instruct us that no government may infringe the right of American travelers and air crews to go armed.

Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) International, representing 67,000 pilots at 47 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, has testified that Congress should "train volunteer airline pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit to secure the nerve center of the aircraft. ..." And Southern Nevada's own Front Sight Firearms Training Institute has now offered to train those airline pilots for free.

Confidence games -- the "appearance" or "perception" of safety -- are not enough. If air travel -- with its considerable ability to impact a modern economy -- is wobbly now, imagine what will happen after the next terror attack succeeds. Now is not the time for mere cosmetics. Armed air crews -- as were common in the past, and are now demanded by the pilots themselves -- would "enhance the confidence of people who want to fly," Sen. Smith says. "If we don't get people flying, then we're never going to recover the (airline) industry. And if we don't recover the industry, we won't recover the economy."

Why is this obvious step receiving so little attention and public debate? At the very time we're being told that American civilians are "on the front lines" of a war with terrorism, are treasonous politicians selling both our freedom and our security down the river, merely to protect a hidden political agenda which is determined to hysterically reject (at any cost) the mandate of our founders, that an armed populace is "necessary to the security of a free state"?

"Bizarre is the only way to describe the proposals to put government in charge of security at airports," Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala., wrote on Nov. 2.

"If the post office has no means of preventing the delivery of disease, and the government's jails can't keep out drugs, why would anyone believe the feds can improve the already federally supervised security at airports?" Mr. Rockwell continues. "The only real benefit will be for public-sector unions, who will recruit more dues-paying members, and for those who want to acculturate us to more regimentation."

Merely trying to make sure no one but the hijackers is armed has been tried -- and has failed utterly. Instead, the conference committee should now expedite the inclusion of S.B. 1463/H.R. 2896 in the final airport security bill -- expanding these provisions to further invite all passengers to bring aboard their legal firearms, as well.

Or do we want to the next terrorist hijacking an American airliner to again face nothing more than a plastic butter knife?



Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter by sending $72 to Privacy Alert, 561 Keystone Ave., Suite 684, Reno, NV 89503 -- or dialing 775-348-8591.


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