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I was with him until he started talking about how the "greatest boon" to airline security had been "a lock on the door and a gun in the cockpit".

Firstly, to my knowledge, nobody has attempted to storm the cockpit since 9/11, so the locks, though a good idea, haven't actually done anything. And the guns -- projectile weapons not being the best idea when travelling in a pressurized metal capsule anyway -- have certainly never been fired.

The actual improvement in airline security has been greater vigilance on the part of passengers, who stopped both the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber, and better intelligence operations in the middle east, which got us the tip-off about the toner cartridge bomb.

Airplanes only represent a unique terror target if they can be used as weapons to inflict greater damage. Putting a bomb on a plane will kill several hundred people, but so will putting a bomb in a mall or train.

Thus, securing the cockpit gets you more bang for the buck by removing a whole avenue of attack, with relatively low cost (the lock and the gun). While I agree that firing a gun in a pressurized cabin isn't the best idea, having it there makes it very likely that the pilots would have an advantage over any potential hijacker, since keeping other guns off the plane is relatively easy, and doesn't require overly invasive searching.

You can hardly point to the lack of the incident that the security measure was designed to prevent as evidence to the pointlessness of said security measure.

If no-one's ever climbed over the walls at a prison, does that mean that the walls are "doing nothing"?

Um, actually somebody tried to storm the cockpit shortly after they mandated that the doors be locked.

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