COMMENTARY: The Importance of Rational Protocols for the Carriage of Handguns on Commercial Flights.
By: Charles G. Slepian
After the shock of Pan Am flt.103 exploding over Lockerbee, Scotland in 1988, the United States was put on notice that Islamic terrorism had declared war on America, and that commercial aviation was its leading target. In the aftermath of this horrific slaughter, in which all 269 aboard a Boeing 747, mostly American college students on their way to New York’s Kennedy Airport from London’s Heathrow were killed in the sky at 30,000 ft. and debris from the airliner was spread over the little village of Lockerbie claiming 11 residents in their beds and raising the death toll to 270 victims, murdered by Libyan terrorists. This attack was followed by a torrent of promises from the United States and elsewhere that the perpetrators would pay for their crimes and that long promised improvements in commercial aviation security would be put in place to protect airports, airliners and the public from future acts of this kind.
A number of highly respected sources usually turned to for creative thinking on issues of crime and terrorism were seen giving television interviews with a very disturbing “deer in the head lights” look I in their eyes. While I didn’t expect to hear too much creative thinking so soon after a terrorism attack of this magnitude, there was something new about the tone and content of the opinions being given. There was a focus on the failure of Belgium law enforcement to foresee these attacks and in time at least to limit their scope. Much of the critical commentary centered on the arrest last week of the sought after Paris attack terrorist, Salah Abdeslam.
Commercial aviation remains as safe as ever – or to put it another way, it was never really safe from intentional acts of sabotage, hijacking and in-flight violence; clearly not much has changed. The most recent report on airport security reveals that all manner of contraband continues to get through the eight billion dollar security program designed to prevent terrorists from striking our commercial aviation system.