WASHINGTON -- Airline Capt. Linda Pauwels is an "anti-gun" mom who keeps her two young children away from violent video games and television shows.
Yet if the government allows pilots to pack a pistol to defend the cockpit against hijackers, Pauwels says she'll get a gun and explain to the kids that she needs it for work.
Five months after the Sept. 11 attacks, pilots and flight attendants complain they have yet to receive any meaningful self-defense training, although their jobs require them to take down anyone from a shoe bomber to a business traveler who suddenly decides to kick in the cockpit door.
This week, the government begins formal consideration of demands from flight crews for a new kind of standard-issue equipment: The pilots want semiautomatics, while the flight attendants say stun guns would be a wiser option for both. More than 6,000 people have responded to a Federal Aviation Administration request for public comments, and the vast majority support arming crews -- with firearms.
But airlines adamantly are opposed to firearms, and some U.S. Transportation Department officials fear any kind of weaponry will lead to unintended consequences. "This is not something that is a slam dunk," said one official, referring to firearms. "As for Tasers (stun guns), I'm not sure how one trains for it, but don't volunteer me."
While the government deliberates, pilots and flight attendants must wrestle with anxiety and a lingering sense of vulnerability.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.