There are nearly 1 million State and Local Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s) in the United States, however, under federal regulations most of them are not allowed to carry firearms on board a commercial aircraft.
Federal agents are allowed to carry their firearms whether on or off-duty but your local police officer is not, unless they are on-duty and conducting an official duty such as a prisoner escort, protective duties, etc. There is also a complicated process in place for LEO’s to fly armed even with a valid, approved reason.
I’m sure the rules were developed in the interest of safety. No one wants rounds being tossed around the cabin of an aircraft by people who don’t understand the environment. However, these rules were developed prior to 9.11.01. We live in a new world today. We live with a new threat and perhaps it’s time to revisit these rules and say that the threat is worth the relatively low risk of a sworn LEO having a gun on a plane.
The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) has just asked the President Obama (click here for article) to allow appropriately certified federal, state and local officers to carry firearms on board commercial flights.
Already there are those opposed to this program such as the Air Transport Association and some aviation “experts,” who say that preventing bad people and bad things from getting on planes, and air marshals, are the only ways to protect airplanes. Anyone who thinks there is only one way to stop an attack on aviation is not an expert in aviation security in my opinion.
It is a layered system and oddly enough, at the end of the day, it’s been the passengers on several flights that have prevented many tragedies. It’s not hard to imagine the force multiplier that would be produced by allowing state and local LEO’s, who are properly trained and certified, to be allowed to carry their guns in-flight. What are your thoughts?