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Airline Passengers Should Not Be Armed

January 08, 2002

Re "Airline Defends Banning Bush Guard From Flight," Jan. 4: An Arab American Secret Service agent alleges bias when he attempted to board a flight. Should individuals, even those in law enforcement, be allowed to board an airplane with a firearm? My response is unequivocally, no.

The first and obvious problem, as noted by the pilot of the American Airlines flight, is determining the validity of identification. With the large number of police agencies and varying identification documents, can we ask pressured airline security to separate the real from the bogus? One must also consider the possibility that a law enforcement officer may be suffering from drug or alcohol abuse or mental illness. Do we want such a person to be armed on an aircraft? I would worry that an officer might respond inappropriately to a perceived threat. There is always the possibility that potential terrorists or hijackers might become aware that an officer is armed and might succeed in overpowering him.

I would take no comfort knowing that the individual sitting next to me is armed.

Michael Weiss

Hidden Hills

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I will not fly on any airliner on which the pilot does not have the authority to say who gets on board. Of any airline, American Airlines need look at only four months of history to realize that outside checkpoints are not 100% reliable. If the pilot is unreasonable in his decisions, charge him, sue him, discipline him and have the comfort of knowing he will be alive to face the charges.

Elwin J. Stemig

Hermosa Beach

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