Ben Bova: Safety is a well-armed citizenry, and other ‘crazy’ ideas


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Drizzt
September 9, 2007, 02:32 AM
Ben Bova: Safety is a well-armed citizenry, and other ‘crazy’ ideas
By Ben Bova

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A couple of weeks ago we looked at some crazy ideas that just might work to help solve pressing societal issues.

Here are a few more.

Gun control. Back when airline hijackings first started and airport security began making life more difficult for passengers, I got the feeling that the security people were going about their task backwards.

Instead of searching everybody to make certain that no one was carrying a gun aboard the airliner, it seemed to me that they should be handing each passenger a loaded .45 automatic pistol and telling them that if anybody makes a suspicious move, start shooting.

Flights would be quiet and calm, I’m sure. Every passenger would have that loaded .45 in his or her lap, watching for the slightest twitch from any of the other passengers. The guns could be loaded with frangible bullets, which penetrate flesh well enough but would shatter upon striking the metal skin of the airplane or one of the windows. Or maybe tranquilizer darts, the kind that biologists use to put a rhinoceros to sleep.

The airlines could even save money because they wouldn’t have to serve drinks or meals. Anyone who has to go to the toilet would announce his or her intention loudly and clearly. If more than one person got up at the same time it might start a shoot-out.

We wouldn’t have to worry about profiling or undignified searches of passengers. We could get through airports much more easily and quickly. The taxpayer would save considerable money because we would no longer need a small army of security people at the airports.

Of course, there might be cases where a misunderstanding leads to an unfortunate shooting. Or some trigger-happy boob opens up on his fellow passengers for no reason other than his own mental problem. But those would be a minority of flights. Most of us would be safer and air travel would be somewhat smoother if we the people form our own well-ordered militia aboard airliners.

Why stop at airliners? Current gun control laws haven’t done much to prevent nut cases from walking into a school or office and opening fire on whoever happens to be there. Every now and then a person usually described in the news as “disgruntled” blasts away at his fellow workers. Postal employees seem particularly prone to this. Frankly, I’ve wondered for years why some disgruntled writer doesn’t spray the offices of a New York publishing house with bullets.

Be that as it may, gun control advocates have not been very successful at controlling the wackos who kill people with guns. And those who oppose gun control point out — correctly, I’m afraid — that when guns are illegal only the crooks will be armed. It seems quite true that if the students or faculty of Virginia Tech had been able to shoot back at their attacker, many lives would have been saved.

You see where this is leading. Instead of trying to restrict ownership of guns, we should make it a requirement that every adult citizen owns a gun and takes regular lessons in how to use it. Those lessons would include instructions on gun safety, so that children won’t have access to loaded weapons.

A crazy idea? Well, what’s the safest and most peaceful nation in the world? Switzerland. Every Swiss adult male is conscripted for army training and is required to keep a gun in his home. Required. Nobody shoots up offices or schools in Switzerland.

I know, Switzerland is very different from the United States. We have a lot of seriously ill people walking our streets. But if every citizen were armed and ready to defend him or herself, loonies with guns wouldn’t get very far.

Certainly there will be accidental shootings. Certainly there will be an uptick in shootings from family quarrels or barroom arguments. But those will settle down, I believe, as citizens become accustomed to the fact that everyone has not only a right, but a legal obligation, to bear arms.

Which brings me to another point. We should never have outlawed dueling. In days of yore, when two gentlemen had a serious difference of opinion they could settle it on the so-called field of honor by shooting, stabbing, or otherwise trying to inflict physical harm on one another.

Today we call a lawyer. This has led to a madly litigious society where people sue one another at the drop of a politically-correct sigh. We spend a lot of money on lawyers and law suits. I submit that winning a judgment in court isn’t nearly as satisfying as sinking a few inches of steel into your adversary’s anatomy.

Now, I’m not as bloodthirsty as that sounds. I’m not advocating actual duels that draw real blood. With today’s computers, virtual reality systems, and game simulations, duels can be fought electronically. The satisfaction of winning will still be there, as will be the humiliation of losing. But you wouldn’t have to go to court or pay fees to a law firm.

I dealt with this idea almost four decades ago in a novel titled The Dueling Machine. Modern technology has caught up with my original idea. Maybe it’s time to put it to the test.

One final crazy idea, about helping the homeless. Why not give them overnight shelter in city and county municipal buildings? The buildings have running water, bathroom facilities, and good roofs. Let the homeless spend their nights where the politicians and bureaucrats spend their days. It will be far cheaper than building more shelters. After all, we’re paying for those buildings. Let’s utilize them as fully as we can — and help the homeless in the process.

By the way, why do those who provide care for the homeless count how many homeless we have in the winter months? Why not count them in August? Then we’d see that the homeless move with the seasons, just like affluent snowbirds do.

- - -

Naples resident Ben Bova is the author of “The Aftermath” and more than 115 other novels and nonfiction books. Dr. Bova’s Web site address is www.benbova.com.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/sep/08/ben_bova_safety_wellarmed_citizenry_and_other_craz/

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Robert Hairless
September 9, 2007, 03:08 AM
No one should be allowed to board an airplane without a NICS background check before each flight.

People who have been adjudicated a danger to themselves or others should not be allowed on board an airplane.

These two basic security checks should add little time to the current procedures but should do much to increase safety.

moxie
September 9, 2007, 07:44 AM
Dr. Ben Bova is a genius! He goes way back and I've enjoyed his works for many years.

Dick1911
September 9, 2007, 08:14 AM
After 911 I told everyone the same thing - the airline should issue all adults on the plane a handgun. People looked at me like I was crazy:what:

If someone had mental issues and fired unprovoked, well the rest of the passengers would take care of it and the bad genes would not be passed on. Another win for Darwinism :D

An armed Society is a polite Society!

Travis Lee
September 9, 2007, 08:35 AM
Straight from Archie Bunker.

It was portrayed as stupid hair-brained idea....

But my folks and me thought it was a great idea.

--Travis--

Gadget
September 9, 2007, 10:49 AM
I've advocated for quite awhile an alternative of the same thought. Couldn't the airlines replace the phones installed in the back of each seat with a single shot TAZER. Then along with the standard "here's how to buckle your seatbelt" briefing, the instructions would include "in case of emergency release the tazer point it at an offender and squeeze the trigger." Each device could be locked/unlocked centrally from the cockpit. What'cha think?

lacoochee
September 9, 2007, 11:47 AM
My thought was that we would never get the gun idea to fly with the bliss ninnies. So I thought what would be just effective and would stop any terrorist in his tracks if he/she were to get out of line.

Rocks, maybe with the airline logo etched into it to it as an advertising tool.

As you get on the airplane there would be a barrel full of rocks, take as many as you like, there would be a similar barrel as you get off where you could drop the rocks if you wanted once the trip was over. Passengers should also be encouraged to carry clubs or hammers.

I figure a couple hundred hefty rocks per plane would have prevented 911 from ever happening as any other thing than an interesting historical side note that 19 attempted hijackers were stoned to death on 9-11-2001.

Poper
September 9, 2007, 02:26 PM
The airline thin is a lead-in.
Dr. Bova appears to be a reluctant supporter of 2A:

gun control advocates have not been very successful at controlling the wackos who kill people with guns. And those who oppose gun control point out — correctly, I’m afraid — that when guns are illegal only the crooks will be armed. It seems quite true that if the students or faculty of Virginia Tech had been able to shoot back at their attacker, many lives would have been saved.


And many of us have been expounding this:
Instead of trying to restrict ownership of guns, we should make it a requirement that every adult citizen owns a gun and takes regular lessons in how to use it.

NRA and Eddie Eagle anyone?
Those lessons would include instructions on gun safety, so that children won’t have access to loaded weapons.


Personally, I think he may be on to something!

Poper

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