One partial solution for airline security

I have an idea that I think would greatly improve the safety and security of air travel. Why not deputize a large number of ordinary, non-professional law enforcement people who travel regularly as auxiliary Air Marshals? Take people who fly regularly and shoot regularly, can demonstrate superb accuracy with a handgun under realistic conditions, can pass a training course and qualify. Give them the training they need to handle hijacking and terrorism situations in the air — make sound shoot/no-shoot decisions, when to engage and when to shut up and sit still, that sort of thing. Allow them to fly armed with concealed weapons and special ID. Now you have a significant possibility that any given flight, especially those on heavily traveled routes, will have at least one trained, armed person aboard who is able and willing to prevent a hijacking or terror attack.

Imagine how much less screening would be needed! Why bother checking for pocket knives and knitting needles, when someone so equipped would not be the most heavily armed person on the plane? All you’d need to do is to continue checking for explosives, and make sure non-deputized individuals aren’t packing firearms.

I know there is a significant number of people in this country who would willingly fulfill this duty for no pay on a volunteer basis – not even a discount on their airfare. I know I would. Of course you would need to weed out the oddballs and nut cases that aren’t prohibited from owning firearms, but aren’t safe to have armed… but there are already means in place to do so. There are thousands of people who would willingly serve as Air Marshal while traveling on a volunteer basis, but couldn’t afford to take the drastic pay cut to do it full time. A substantial percentage of the civilian population already posses the requisite skills and expertise to be safe and effective in such a role. I’m not talking about a blanket rubber-stamp approval for any particular group, even; I’m sure there are card-carrying law enforcement officers out there who would be a bad choice for carrying on an airplane. NYPD officers, for example, who empty 30-odd rounds into a car and end up only killing one of the three people in it obviously lack the training, judgment and discipline that would be required.