Standing between men wearing combat boots and holding M-16s and watching an airport security guard rob my shaving kit of its nail clippers, I wondered where firearms fit into an America at war with a ruthless, invisible and evil enemy. Will the public approve of firearms more or less?
The National Guardsmen to my left probed the camo jacket in my open bag and asked, “What are you going hunting for?”
“Moose,” I answered.
Both National Guardsmen shook their heads and smiled. They approved.
Then, as the airline employee threw my clippers into a bin overflowing with hundreds of other shiny implements of hygiene, I looked around and noted that many people were eyeing the Guardsmen with a mix of awe and assurance. They approved.
Walking to my gate I remembered that when I checked in, the airline attendant who took my rifle didn’t even wince; she just said, “It’s not quite business as usual, but you can still fly with firearms.” She didn’t disapprove.
Boarding the plane I knew that across the country gun sales had jumped for several days after the terrorist attacks. That K-Mart had pulled all of its firearms for a few days. And that before the ashes had settled in Manhattan, commercial pilots were standing before Congress asking for sidearms. So as I went down the aisle in search of my seat and looked around for suspicious characters, I thought I would have felt safer if those bills pending in Congress had been passed, and those gentlemen in uniform up front were packing. Then I wondered how the rest of the nervous faces around me felt: Would they approve?