Armed and Dangerous.

The situation that took place in Florida yesterday sent shivers down my spine. Actually, it kind of terrified me. While I realize that not everything is about me nor should everything be about me, I find it almost impossible to not think selfishly sometimes especially when it concerns my biggest, most irrational fear. People say there is no such thing as a selfless act. I believe that. It’s probably safe to say that one thinks selfishly as well.

While the details are still fuzzy, I heard today that Rigoberto Alpizar suffered from Bi-Polar Disorder. As reports are released, we’re finding he was “a nice guy” who apparently completely freaked out while onboard the American Airline flight headed to Orlando. There is a member in my family who suffers from an extreme case of Bi-Polar Disorder. I keep thinking about him especially considering he resembles Rigoberto at least in the picture featured on CNN today.

In mid-November a French woman, who was drunk on alcohol and who had taken sleeping pills to thwart her fear of flying, tried to open the airplane door in order to smoke a cigarette. She remembers nothing of the act. Who can say whether she was indeed freaking out at the time or if this is a story concocted up by her lawyer to receive a lesser sentence, either way, she decided in some altered state of mind that it’d be perfectly OK to open the door of the plane and step outside for a smoke. She was lucky. She wasn’t shot to death.

When I fly, I enter a deranged state of mind. All rational thought leaves me. I need constant reassurance from Toby Joe. Constant. Every sound, smell, cough, sputter, twist, turn, ebb, announcement, hell, even complete silence sends me into a state of panic. Nothing seems right. Nothing.

Do guns really you feel safer while flying? Right after September 11th, 2001, I was absolutely got behind arming air marshals onboard all flights. I felt safer somehow knowing they could take down anyone who might cause harm. After all, had there been armed men onboard any or all of the flights the morning of September 11th, 2001 things may have been different today.

But during a time where tensions are high, anger is right below the surface fueled by raw fear; I can’t say it makes me feel that safe anymore. As far as I’m concerned, as long as the people working in the actual airport are doing their job, screening each and every customer boarding each and every flight, I don’t see the need anymore for having armed air marshals inside a giant can 30,000 feet above sea level. Do you feel safer onboard a flight surrounded by armed air marshals? I’m just not sure anymore.

12 Comments

  1. i love flying. i must admit however, i get a bit nervous at take-off and landing. it’s pretty funny actually, the fear of an crash at 30,000 feet doesn’t scare me. but at 1,000 feet or 500 feet does scare me……i guess it’s the fear of actually surviving a plane crash that scares me…………armed air marshall are a good thing. but i’d have to say they should carry two guns each……one with bullets and another with a high power tranquilizer.

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  2. I’m gonna agree with greg’s comment above about 2 guns – especially in light of what cnn didn’t mention, but network news did:
    a_ his wife was on the plane screaming “he has bipolar disorder and didn’t take his medication yet”, running after him trying to calm him down.
    b_ 2 agents shot him IN THE BACK after he ran out of the plane which hadn’t taken off.

    They didn’t try any other way to subdue him, someone was screaming “he didn’t take medication” , and they could have easily ‘caught’ him at the gate.

    To be honest, the idea of air marshalls is good , but in practice with stuff like this it makes you realize that good ideas often execute poorly

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  3. Yes, I heard all of that about his wife, etc. I am not sure why they are leaving that part out. (Actually, I am, but it’s sickening so I refuse to think too much about it.)

    I’m not sure I like the idea of bullet fed guns on board a tin can. Isn’t there something less, oh, I don’t know. permanent they can use instead of a gun?

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  4. i was goning to say tazer(sp?) but now that i think about it, anything with a high voltage that emits that kind of static into the air could be potentially dangerous to the plane’s equipment. i’m no electrical engineer or anything. how about a grappling hook or a bean-bag gun..hehhehheeheehe

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  5. I’m gonna go ahead and be an ass here and question whether the most decorated law enforcement professionals are those who are tapped for the role of air cop, or if it’s a punishment or teeth-cutting position.

    I’m also gonna agree with Greg and Jon regarding multiple weapons, but go a bit farther. I’m thinking they should have the two guns, a boomerang, and a couple of grenades.

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  6. I dont mean to sound heartless, but why didnt the guy take his medicine? The way they were talking on the news, his wife was aware he suffered from an extreme case of bi-polar disorder. Not knowing anyone with the disease I say this with reluctance, but shouldnt his taking of his medication be top priority in his life? And the fact that his wife knew he didnt take it is odd as well. Saying this, I have taken Ambien to fall asleep on a plane and done things while “twilighting” that I dont remember. (Not anything that would deserve being shot) But as a passenger I expect a level of safety. I work for the airlines and although security measures have been stepped up since 9-11 I still dont trust the folks searching people entering the airport with my safety as much as I do an armed federal marshal. This may sound heartless, but I also like the message it sends that there is a no tolerance policy when it comes to bomb threats. It is a horrible sad situation, dont get me wrong, but it makes me feel better as a traveler to know there are still marshals flying.

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  7. zac, my boss said the same thing. Why didn’t he take his medicine? Thing with me is my medicine makes me act even more insane (like the lady who thought to have a smoke.) I could see flipping out while knocked up on Xanax. That is, if I could stay awake long enough. But this is different. I don’t know the answer to that.

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  8. Wow, my comment would have you think I’m hopped up on Xanax right now. The hell?

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  9. BiPolar disorder means you’re basically crazy. Its not schizophrenia, but you’re pretty damn nutty. People can either not take meds because they’re scared to, they forget to, or they can be told not to for certain situations because it makes them crazier.

    Having dated or lived with too many gfs that were bipolar or other disorders , for whatever reason those close to them can tell pretty quickly and easily when someone didn’t take their meds. He probably started acting weird, and the wife was all “shit, he didn’t take the meds”.

    Anyways, I feel way fucking UNsafer with guns and air marshalls on planes. I think the 9/11 response to air travel isn’t so much “we need air marshalls” as it is “if you try something on a flight, mob violence is gonna fuck you up” – guns means accidents. And this was one of those. That guy didn’t need to be shot, in fact shooting him was fucking moronic:

    Passenger: "I have a bomb, I have a bomb"
    Air Marshall: "Go ahead make my day" {BANG! BANG!}
    Air Marshall (over dead body): "Now where's that bomb, pardner"
    Air Marshall (to self): "Fuck. Fuck fuck oh fuck. I need to stop shooting first and asking questions later.  If there really is a bomb on this plane, we're fucked."

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  10. on the flipside:

    Passenger: I have a bomb! I have a bomb!
    Air Marshall: Sir! Freeze or I’ll…
    BOOM!! (Everyone dies)

    Damn if you do, damn if you don’t.

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  11. In this particular instance your breakdown needs some editing.

    Passenger: (Inaudible mumble.) Is freaking out acting a little nuts.

    Another passenger: HE SAID HE HAD A BOMB!

    Air Marshall: Sir! Freeze or I’ll

    WIfe of man: DON’T SHOOT. MY HUSBAND. MY HUSBAND. HE IS BI-POLAR! MY HUSBAND.

    (Husband runs out the door of the plane. Wife follows, screaming.)

    Air Marshall Shoots husband in the back, killing him immediately.

    Later another passenger says he heard nothing about the man saying anything about carrying a bomb.

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  12. then again, this is coming from someone who no longer believes anything anyone says anymore.

    Too many times have I stopped and pulled over on 14th St to normal yet very distraught looking girls and the following has ensued:

    Me: You seem very distraught & upset. Is something wrong? Are you lost or something?
    Girl: Ummm…no…uhhh…are you looking for a date or anything?

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