I fly a lot. I’m writing this (thanks to in-flight Wi-Fi) on a plane soon to land at LAX.
Yet I agree with Robert Poole at Reason’s blog: the gun that tumbled out of a checked bag at LAX is no threat to me.* Â How could it be? Yes, it should have been packed unloaded (which is apparently the law): there’s always a chance that a gun could accidentally fire, at risk to the plane, if some idiot leaves the safety off. Â But a little reflection makes clear that there is no way a gun in checked luggage could conceivably be used in a hijackingâ€”except if we assume some Mission: Impossible level of crazy plotting. And if we care to assume that we can think up much more plausible ways of executing in-air violence successfully.
I hope Poole is wrong that politicians will use this as an excuse to give the TSA more authority. One of the central purposes of a representative democracy, not to mention one that makes use of experts, is to save us from random synapses that don’t represent real reasons.
Here’s a textbook case illustrating the principle. Â The only question is which chapter of the textbook we’ll put it in. Representative and expert democracy will work exactly as they ought to here. Or they won’t.
*To the literalists in the peanut gallery: Â I realize that a gun in a checked bag flying out of LAX is by definition no threat to a flight arriving into LAX. But one might expect me to be scared in general at the prospect. I’m not and I shouldn’t be.