Legacy airlines United and Delta announced Saturday that they will no longer offer discounted bulk travel rates for NRA members to use exclusively for NRA gatherings, to which an estimated 100% of NRA members nationwide perplexedly responded, “Delta and United used to give NRA members travel discounts?” Now that United and Delta have made crystal clear their hostility toward a constitutionally protected civil right, they should follow their newfound activism to its logical conclusion and disarm not only the U.S. Marshals who protect their flights but also the airlines’ own pilots and crews.
Until Wednesday’s White House meeting with parents and family members of the shool shooting in Parkland, Florida, many Americans may have been unaware that airline crews regularly carry guns. President Trump explained, “A lot of airline pilots now—a lot of them—carry guns.” He was referring to the Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act, signed into law as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 after the September 11 terrorist attacks. For 16 years the law has deputized flight crew members as federal law enforcement officers authorized to keep and use firearms aboard aircraft.
In addition to locked and loaded pilots and stewardesses, since United and Delta have also since 1961 enjoyed the protection of the Federal Air Marshal Service, which deploys armed federal agents onto commercial flights. Perhaps these legacy airlines may now doubt the efficacy of firearms in preventing attacks because federal air marshals have not once prevented a terrorist attack in the sky. Indeed, defenders of the civil right to keep and bear arms regularly cite as the failure of government agencies to prevent violent attacks as evidence that the capacity to defend oneself must not be infringed. The mass shooting in Florida serves as a prime example of law enforcement's failing at every level, from the FBI, which neglected clear warnings, all the way down to the Sheriff Scott Israel’s deputies, who refused to enter the high school building as the shooter massacred his fellow students.
Whatever the reason United Airlines and Delta now profess to oppose guns, their signaling rings hollow as long as they allow pilots, crews, and air marshals to travel packing heat. Much like Democrat politicians and Hollywood celebrities who malign law-abiding gun-owners while surrounded by battalion of armed bodyguards, the airlines seem to tell their passengers, “Self-defense for me, but not for thee.” United and Delta could rectify this rank hypocrisy by surrendering their own crew members’ firearms before they join the chorus of those who demand the same of every other American. Of course then their reckless actions would incur real-world consequences. Perhaps American customers should make them feel those consequences either way.