That Whole Rigamarole

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Air Defense, Democrat Style

As a resident of the greater Chicago metropolitan area, I am treated to reports on Mayor Richard M. Daley at least several times a week. One of the things Mayor Daley does very well is complain about how Chicago is not being adequately supported by the Federal government. Usually support equates to cash money, but this week he wants the FAA to restrict the airspace over downtown Chicago. New York, Los Angeles, and Disney World have such restricted airspace, and it’s “not fair” that Chicago doesn’t have one.

The threat, you see, is someone in a general aviation aircraft, loaded with who knows what, flying into a building in Chicago. So if it were against the law to fly over Chicago, all those buildings would be safe. Get it? We also, says the Mayor, need to have the FAA keep track of who is flying these airplanes and what they are carrying.

Mayor Daley is apparently an expert politician (79% of the 34% voter turnout voted for him a few weeks ago) but he is also something of a buffoon with a broad authoritarian streak. This concern about aircraft and his preferred legalistic solution is great example of his worldview. There is almost no history of terrorist activity with small aircraft. And preventing a criminal from piloting a small aircraft into the City of Chicago would require air defense batteries and probably combat air patrols, not FAA rulemaking. A very good analogy would be the ban on handguns within Chicago. Places that allow citizens to carry handguns experience almost criminal incidents related to those guns. A quick look at the crime data for Chicago reveals that criminals don’t observe the handgun ban, and feel free to commit a wide range of crimes within the city. The restricted airspace would likewise inconvenience the law-abiding while doing nothing to deter the criminal.


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