Keep and Bear Arms
Home Members Login/Join About Us News/Editorials Archives Take Action Your Voice Web Services Free Email
You are 1 of 390 active visitors Tuesday, March 05, 2024
Main Email List:

State Email Lists:
Click Here
» Join/Renew Online
» Join/Renew by Mail
» Make a Donation
» Magazine Subscriptions
» KABA Memorial Fund
» Advertise Here
» Use KABA Free Email

» JOIN/Renew NOW! «



Keep and Bear Arms - Vote In Our Polls
Do you oppose Biden's anti-gun executive orders?

Current results
Earlier poll results
4722 people voted



» U.S. Gun Laws
» AmeriPAC
» NoInternetTax
» Gun Show On The Net
» 2nd Amendment Show
» SEMPER FIrearms
» Colt Collectors Assoc.
» Personal Defense Solutions



Keep and Bear Arms


Archived Information

Top | Last 30 Days | Search | Add to Archives | Newsletter | Featured Item

Airplanes & Guns:
Myths and Reality

from Angel Shamaya
Founder/Executive Director

September 19, 2001

Following the dreadful morning when four American commercial airliners were used to murder thousands of people in the span of a couple of hours, there has been much discussion of arming pilots.  Many people are also saying that even properly trained citizens should be allowed to carry firearms on planes, as well.

To facilitate the discussions about whether or not to allow guns onto airplanes and who should or should not be allowed to carry them, we need to dispense with at least 12 Myths under which some people appear to be baffled.  It's also a good idea to proceed in this conversation based on facts, reason and logic -- setting aside anything else, especially emotional or illogical dismissal of the facts. 

We must also assume that anyone who cannot refute the facts reasonably must be unable to do so because the facts stand up under scrutiny -- and dismiss their emotional and illogical assertions as irrelevant.



Facts, Considerations & Questions
Cabin depressurization will occur if a firearm is discharged on an airplane.
1)  Pre-fragmented "safety slugs" are designed not to penetrate walls or ricochet from hard surfaces. These bullets are widely available at reasonable prices and are ideal for home defense where you don't want to accidentally shoot a neighbor while defending yourself and your family -- and they are perfect for use on an airplane, by design.

2)  If it's dangerous to risk decompression by the discharge of a firearm on an airplane, how is it less dangerous if the gun is fired by a government employee or a hired Sky Marshal? Has some law of physics been repealed on their behalf?

3)  Even if you put a common handgun bullet through the side of an airplane -- pick your caliber, any of them -- it will not depressurize a cabin measurably. And what small amount of leakage would occur could be plugged with any number of things within reach of your seat, including a small portion of the tiny pillows and baby blankets you are given by flight attendants.  But don't take it from me; listen to two Licensed Aircraft Engineers, one of whom is a Lead Technician for a major airline:

"On the overall question: 'Is shooting hijackers on aircraft an appropriate thing to do considering the risk of damaging the operational integrity of the aircraft,' the answer is 'Hell Yes.' I've been a licensed aircraft mechanic for over 20 years, and I am the Lead Technician for a Major Airline. I know aircraft. It's pretty tough to down a transport category aircraft with small arms fire. Boeing's 737s, 757s and the rest are very much like bulldozers with wings on them in that regard."  -- Dan Todd, Licensed Aircraft Engineer for 20 years, Lead Technician for a Major Airline (more from Dan)

"One or even several bullets puncturing the pressure cabin wall would be hardly noticeable and the aircraft's pressurization control would easily cope with the slight loss of air. The likelihood of a single bullet causing a massive structural failure is so remote as to be insignificant."  -- David M., Licensed Aircraft Engineer, (more from David)

A citizen or a pilot with a firearm on an airplane might shoot innocent people.


1)  Many citizens and pilots have fired more rounds of ammunition than most government employees and have demonstrated an expert level of competence beyond that of a large percentage of government employees.

2)  Is there some Law of Physics that makes a government employee or hired Sky Marshal on an airplane a better shot than a citizen who can outshoot them on the range?

3)  On September 11, 2001, over 5,000 innocent people died due to hijackings. Given that fact, would one or two citizens injured on board but the hijackers subdued have been a worse outcome?

4)  From commercial airline pilot, Captain Dennis Jackson:  

"An armed sky marshal would be a better shot when surrounded by a mix of passengers and terrorists? In comparison to pilots who will only shoot whoever comes through the door? It is a small door, so it would be like shooting ducks in a gallery."

If you arm pilots with guns, problems could occur.


1)  Pilots command technologically-advanced, multi-million dollar aircrafts that take extensive training and testing to operate. Why are we to believe that pilots cannot handle a revolver?

2)  Which is more difficult to operate: a multi-million dollar airplane with hundreds of knobs, buttons, gauges, levers and hundreds of moving parts -- or a point and shoot revolver?

3)  If we trust pilots not to crash their planes and kill everyone on board, why should we not trust them to prevent terrorists from taking over the plane and killing everyone on board?

Gosh.  Do you think a pilot can handle a revolver?
Click image to enlarge.

A citizen using a gun on a plane might kill an innocent person.
1)  Over 5,000 innocent people were just killed by terrorist hijackers.  If one or two people on the plane had taken friendly fire while the terrorists were dispatched by armed citizens, would that have been worse than losing 5,000 people, both World Trade Center buildings, a wing of the Pentagon, tremendous economic losses both nationally and internationally, and giving a victory to America's enemies?

2)  If several people on board are armed, including the pilot, do you honestly believe someone will try to hijack that plane?  (If so, please cite the source of the information upon which you base your opinion.)

3)  "On the whole, citizens are more successful gun users than are the police. When police shoot, they are 5.5 times more likely to hit an innocent person than are civilian shooters." -- CATO Institute Policy Analysis No. 109, TRUST THE PEOPLE: THE CASE AGAINST GUN CONTROL, by David Kopel

Carrying a firearm on a plane is too much responsibility to give to a citizen.
1)  Government employees and Sky Marshals are citizens, too. What special ability do they have that a properly trained citizen who can outshoot them at the range does not have or cannot develop?

2)  Where is it written that a government employee or Sky Marshal is "more responsible" than a citizen? And who wrote it? And what is their motivation for promoting such a belief?

Pilots and citizens are not competent enough to handle a firearm on a plane.
1)  Does that include those who:
  • served in the military in high command posts?
  • served in an armed conflict for U.S. military forces and successfully subdued the enemy in hand-to-hand combat?
  • won local, regional or national marksmanship honors?
  • are pillars of strength, responsibility and competence in their communities?
  • have received more firearms training than most law enforcement officials have ever or will ever receive?

2)  "Many of the old codgers driving sky buses these days (my age) were flying C130's, fighter jets, high-altitude spy planes, etc. in Viet Nam, and I guarantee they were packing .45's, .38's or even Swedish K's while doing so. What makes them less capable now?" -- Bill Dietrick, Firearms Coalition of Colorado

If you take a firearm onto an airplane, a hijacker could take your gun from you.
1)  If pilots and citizens could not maintain possession of their guns under any circumstances -- even if they had extensive training in weapons retention and military experience in hand to hand combat -- why are we to believe that a Sky Marshal or government employee could maintain possession of his weapon?

2)  Could a hijacker take weapons away from 20 armed passengers?

3)  "If that were so, perhaps the safest thing we could do would be to let hijackers take guns onto planes, so that good citizens could take those guns away and have them to use against the hijackers. The fact that we wouldn't consider this for a second exposes the intellectual poverty of this argument." -- C.D. Tavares

An armed pilot or armed citizens are no match for crazed, suicidal terrorists.
1)  Please describe how 6 suicidal terrorists could outmatch 20 armed passengers who are committed to living and landing safely.

2)  Please explain how 1 or 2 Sky Marshals (or one lone pilot) will outmatch 6 suicidal terrorists in all ways, including strength, agility, physical prowess, dedication to the task at hand and overall ability to handle the situation.

3)  "UNARMED citizens on flight 93 showed that they were a match for crazed, suicidal terrorists. Had they been armed, they might have even saved their own lives as well as ours." -- C.D. Tavares

Look at those
Click image to enlarge.

No amount of training could justify giving a pilot or passengers the right to carry a firearm aboard an airplane.
1)  What kind of training can a Sky Marshal or a government employee get that a citizen or pilot cannot get?

2)  What makes a Sky Marshal or a government employee better able to learn than a citizen or a pilot?

MYTH #10
A pilot or citizens having guns on airplanes is not safe.
1)  How safe were the passengers on board the planes that were crashed into the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania?

2)  Given the fact that there are many thousands of citizens and plenty of pilots who can outshoot most government employees, why is it safer to have a government employee hold the gun?

3)  What kind of training can a government employee get that cannot be provided to pilots and passengers?

MYTH #11
A lot of innocent people could get hurt or killed if we allow properly trained pilots and/or passengers to carry guns on airplanes.
A full 747 can hold up to 524 passengers. At least 5,500 people are believed to have died as a result of the hijackings on September 11, 2001.

Which number is higher?

MYTH #12
"We don't want the plane to depressurize at 30,000-feet because someone thinks they saw a hijacker." -- Representative Greg Walden
(quoted here, his website, his email address)
1)  Concealed carry permit holders are among the most lawful people in our society. Anyone who has a valid report of a concealed carry permit holder opening fire "because they thought they saw" a criminal is invited to provide credible information for verification (as opposed to emotion-rich but fact-poor rhetoric).

2)  Are we also to believe that a government employee or Sky Marshal would behave differently than a citizen if "they think they see a hijacker?" If so, why? What abilities of discernment have been bestowed upon government employees and Sky Marshals that cannot be bestowed upon citizens and pilots?

3)  People who oppose the right to self-defense on the ground ought not even be considered in this discussion, because their anti-gun fairy tales have already been disproved on the ground. Cities where concealed carrying of firearms have been decriminalized are safer than they were before restrictions were lifted.  (See More Guns, Less Crime by Professor John Lott.)


On Depressurization

from Dan Todd
Licensed Aircraft Engineer for 20 years
Lead Technician for a Major Airline

On the overall question: "Is shooting hijackers on aircraft an appropriate thing to do considering the risk of damaging the operational integrity of the aircraft," the answer is "Hell Yes." I've been a licensed aircraft mechanic for over 20 years, and am the Lead Technician for a Major Airline. I know aircraft. I've been an active shooter for a lot longer than that and I know firearms and ammunition too. So I suppose I'm entitled to an opinion on the matter. By the way, there is special ammunition just for this application.

First of all, there already is a "hole" in the aircraft, for regulating the cabin pressure. It's called the outflow valve. It modulates to maintain desired cabin pressure, in response to signals from a cabin pressure controller, which responds to inputs from a selector panel in the cockpit, all automatic when it's all working normally.

There's also always pressurized cabin air leaking out past door seals and a few other places. Remember, the airplane is pressurized by a constant flow of compressed air into the cabin from the engines (via the pneumatic systems and the air conditioning systems). If one round, or two or three for that matter pierce the skin, it's not necessarily catastrophic; air will go whistling out the hole, and the outflow valve will close a little further to maintain the desired cabin pressure. Now if the bullet hits a cabin window, it could I suppose take out pane completely and then there would be a real problem. That would be enough air whooshing out fast enough to cause a complete depressurization, someone could be extruded through the open window frame (it has happened) and some people wouldn't get their masks on fast enough to keep from passing out. Emergency exits cannot be opened at altitude. About 8 psi would be a typical differential pressure at altitude, and the doors are plug doors, meaning that to get one open it has to move inside the airplane first, so it's 8 lbs X too many square inches to be physically possible.

On bomber aircraft, the crew compartment is pressurized, the bomb rack and bay area is not. The pilot compartment on fighter aircraft is pressurized. With regard to bullets penetrating aircraft skin, well, the skin isn't made to stop bullets, but putting a small hole in the fuselage isn't necessarily a big deal, hitting a control cable would be undesirable but again, not a for sure disaster. Same with a hydraulic line, same for an electrical cable. In summary, it's pretty tough to down a transport category aircraft with small arms fire. Boeing's 737s, 757s and the rest are very much like bulldozers with wings on them in that regard.

Dan Todd, Licensed Aircraft Engineer for 20 years
Lead Technician for a Major Airline
September 17, 2001

On Depressurization

from David M.
Licensed Aircraft Engineer

One or even several bullets puncturing the pressure cabin wall would be hardly noticeable and the aircraft's pressurization control would easily cope with the slight loss of air. The likelihood of a single bullet causing a massive structural failure is so remote as to be insignificant. It is quite possible that gunfire in the cockpit or passenger cabin could cause damage to fuel, hydraulic or electrical lines but again it would have to be unlucky to cause a major problem that could not be survived.

Commercial jets pressurization systems are designed to maintain the cabin at a pressure altitude of not exceeding 8 or 9 thousand feet no matter how high the plane is flying, and they do this with a typical differential of maximum 6 to 9 psi. Rapid depressurization is uncommon and systems warn of creeping depressurization because at a cabin altitude of over 15000 feet blackout is likely to occur but by then the oxygen masks will have long before deployed typically at around 10 to 12000 feet pressure altitude.

I believe I read somewhere that a Boeing 747 can lose five cabin windows and maintain cabin pressure so I personally would not be worried about a few potentially life saving shots being fired by a sky marshal - what effect that might have on ones hearing is another matter entirely!

Regards, David.
September 17, 2001

Related Reading

H.R. 2896 -- Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001
Support this bill. Contact your Representatives.

H.R. 2896 Will Arm Pilots
• GOA Urges Congress to Pass Bill Arming Pilots
• Rep. Paul says his bill will save lives if enacted

Free Gun Training for Commercial Pilots
--Front Sight Steps Up to the Plate

Urgent - Eliminate terror on commercial aircraft:
"Airline Safety and Anti-terrorism Act of 2001"

from Gary S. Marbut/MSSA/TOS, President, Montana Shooting Sports Association

U.S. Code Regarding Carrying of Weapons on Planes

An Examination of Airport Security
from Michael Z. Williamson

The F.A.A. "Increased Security Measures" Are Insultingly Fraudulent
• Press Release from the F.A.A.
• And a Response, Plus Action Steps

The Airplane and Air Flight Laws of Physics
from Angel Shamaya


Printer Version

America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She well knows that by one enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standards of freedom. — JOHN QUINCY ADAMS (1821)

COPYRIGHT POLICY: The posting of copyrighted articles and other content, in whole or in part, is not allowed here. We have made an effort to educate our users about this policy and we are extremely serious about this. Users who are caught violating this rule will be warned and/or banned.
If you are the owner of content that you believe has been posted on this site without your permission, please contact our webmaster by following this link. Please include with your message: (1) the particulars of the infringement, including a description of the content, (2) a link to that content here and (3) information concerning where the content in question was originally posted/published. We will address your complaint as quickly as possible. Thank you.

NOTICE:  The information contained in this site is not to be considered as legal advice. In no way are Keep And Bear Arms .com or any of its agents responsible for the actions of our members or site visitors. Also, because this web site is a Free Speech Zone, opinions, ideas, beliefs, suggestions, practices and concepts throughout this site may or may not represent those of Keep And Bear Arms .com. All rights reserved. Articles that are original to this site may be redistributed provided they are left intact and a link to is given. Click here for Contact Information for representatives of is the leading provider of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and digital certificate solutions used by enterprises, Web sites, and consumers to conduct secure communications and transactions over the Internet and private networks., Inc. © 1999-2024, All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy