In a previous post ken argues that it is counterproductive to disarm passengers since weapons will help them resist a hijacking better. I’m a big fan of personal weapons but in this case I respectfully disagree.
One problem is that since hijackings are extremely rare events letting passengers carry serious weapons like tasers, pepper spray, knives or even guns will be statistically more likely to cause a fatal accident than to be used to resist a hijacking. Also, since any terrorists are likely to be seriously outnumbered by the passengers and crew, depriving everyone of weapons would throw the advantage to the passengers and crew. They can just overwhelm the terrorist with numbers.
And, we can be very, very sure that the passengers will fight.
Prior to 9/11 the assumption of the flight crew, passengers and authorities on the ground was that terrorists sought to control the plane in order to pull off an extended media stunt. Going along with the terrorists offered the best chance for everyone to survive because time worked against the terrorists’ control of the airplane.
The ruthless brutality of the 9/11 attacks changed that calculus forever. Everyone will now operate on the assumption that the terrorists intend to kill everybody on the plane and as many people on the ground as possible. Not even the threat of a bomb will deter resistance. Passengers will know that even if they cooperate with the terrorists there is the high likelihood that authorities on the ground will have the plane shot down if it approaches an urban area and is not firmly under the control of the flight crew.
9/11 made every aircraft “desperate ground.” Every passenger knows that the only way to survive will be to fight to the death no matter how poor the odds. Even the Nazis knew that they could not herd their victims into the deaths camps unless they created the illusion that the camps were survivable. The 9/11 terrorists destroyed that illusion for airline hijackings.
I predict that aircraft will be destroyed by bombs, thimblefuls of nerve gas or from bloody fights for control but we will never again see one sitting on a tarmac surrounded by soldiers.