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'No substitute for firearms'
on aircraft

Posted By Jon Dougherty On 01/22/2002 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

A Kentucky state law enforcement trainer says when it comes to providing the ultimate in airline security, there is no substitute for a firearm in the hands of trained pilots and aircrew.

“That’s the bottom line,” Michael S. Schwendeman, an attorney with the Kentucky Justice Cabinet’s Department of Criminal Justice Training division, told WorldNetDaily last week.

Schwendeman was responding to an earlier WorldNetDaily story reporting that some airlines were considering allowing their pilots to carry “stun guns,” also known as tasers, as alternatives to firearms.

Tasers fire electronically charged cables that are meant to disable attackers. Airline officials say they are considering stun guns because the weapon could reduce the chances that a bullet would penetrate an aircraft or hit a passenger.

However, the Kentucky legal expert said history shows that tasers are not always reliable. In a hijacking involving more than one hijacker, a flight crew might not be able to regain control of the airplane with just a stun gun.

“Tasers are problematic,” Schwendeman said. “They don’t always bring down the suspect.”

Schwendeman used the Rodney King case as an example. King “was tasered not once but twice, and he was not subdued,” Schwendeman said. Though still unjustified, he noted that “the failure of the taser to bring him down led directly to the beating he got from” LAPD officers.

“Had the pilots on the ill-fated planes on Sept. 11 had stun guns and used them, they might have dropped one of the hijackers, but the remaining three or four would have easily overpowered the flight crew before it could be reset. The result would have been the same,” he told WorldNetDaily.

Schwendeman said the Justice Cabinet-based agency is the primary training center for law enforcement officers in the state. He said the division provides a 16-week “boot camp-like program” for all police officers and sheriff’s deputies in the state, aside from three police agencies – including the state police – that have their own academies.

As a lawyer in the Legal Training Section, Schwendeman said his job “involves teaching the law to the basic recruits and to existing officers for in-service courses.

Prior to his current post, he was a civil prosecutor with the Kentucky attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division for seven years.

“The reason I know about the taser failure in the Rodney King case is that I teach it as part of the officer liability course,” Schwendeman said.

He added that many times tasers do stop suspects, but “not always.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently seeking comment from the general public about how to craft regulations that would permit pilots and other commercial airline crewmembers to carry firearms and less-than-lethal weapons as a way to beef up in-flight security.

Due to the holiday, the FAA could not immediately be reached for comment.

Last November, United Airlines announced it would arm its pilots with stun guns to help prevent future hijackings. United lost two planes in the Sept. 11 attacks.

A month earlier, Phoenix, Ariz.-based airline Mesa Air Group, Inc., said it too would arm its pilots with tasers, “in conjunction with the FAA.”

But the Air Line Pilot’s Association, the largest commercial pilot union in the nation with more than 66,000 members, has called for arming pilots using a special ammunition that can kill an attacker but not pierce the fuselage of an airliner.

Related stories:

FAA seeks input on arming pilots

Reform Party: Pilots should be armed

Bill would ensure pilots’ right to be armed

Boot camp for pilots?

Pilots offered free firearms training

Captains to FAA: Focus on cockpits


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