An investigation is underway into how a gun carried by a US Airways pilot was discharged during a flight.
No-one was hurt when the gun went off as the plane was preparing to land at Charlotte, North Carolina, on Saturday.
A hole in a cockpit wall apparently caused by the shot is visible in photos obtained by AP news agency.
Under a programme implemented after the 9/11 attacks, US airline pilots are allowed to carry guns on domestic flights following a training course.
The gun discharged just before noon on Saturday aboard Flight 1536 from Denver to Charlotte, as the Airbus A319 plane was at about 8,000 feet and was approaching to land.
Guns on airplanes. What could possibly go wrong? In the AP story a TSA spokesman called it a "very safe" handgun, a statement only an American would make.
They should still require that they use ceramic or rubber bullets. No one should be able to carry a weapon capable of piercing through a plane (metal or glass) onto a plane. No matter how dangerous the skies may be, there's no reason to have a weapon that dangerous up there. Ceramic bullets shatter when they impact something harder than flesh. Rubber bullets would just cause a lot of pain and a large bruise to whoever they hit... and neither could go through a plane and risk cabin decompression.
What about tazers and stun guns?
There are certainly a great many alternatives to an actual firearm on a plane that could be equally protective in such a small space.
Fifty years ago, there were lots of guns on planes, and never a problem. Many passengers carried concealed handguns. Hunters could bring their cherished rifles and shotguns aboard with them. Practically every male passenger had a pocket knife, and many had sheath knives. And no problems.
Then JFK got shot and the rules changed. DB Cooper showed the world how to hijack airliners full of newly unarmed passengers. The 2001 Faith Based Initiative on September 11 showed the world how to hijack airliners without guns.
The older I get, the crazier the rest of you look.
I like the idea of rubber or ceramic bullets. Good suggestion.
If a hijacker or terrorist has a gun what are you going to do if you have a gun anyway? Are you really going to shoot him? I've never tried to shoot another living thing, but I don't think it would be an easy thing. (I enjoyed shooting at paper targets at summer camp decades ago.) A shoot out on a plane full of people doesn't sound like it would be a very safe thing.
The pilot has a much better chance to just dive the plane and bring it up in a roller coaster fashion. Not much a terrorist is going to do to get to the cockpit under those conditions. Will innocent people get hurt? Yes. Would it be more than if there was as shoot out ont he plane? I don't know.
Just two words: armored doors. If terrorists can't shoot the pilots nor get to the cockpit, hijacking is slightly more complicated.
Besides, it is now quite a lot more complicated to use hijacked planes as missiles as people know what to expect. That it succeeded once, doesn't mean it can be repeated. The group on the Pennsylvania plane failed because people knew (if the plane was shot down, they most likely would have failed anyway).
A plane full of guns is sheer insanity and is itself a much greater risk than hijacking.