There are two activities where regulators assume that participants are responsible adults and issue rules accordingly: aviation, and Texas firearms laws. In both cases, the laws are comparatively clear, in plain English more often than not, and the regulating agencies treat people like grown-ups. How nice! The federal regulations are actually clearer, because they are older, and came from a time when the legal philosophy was, “What is the minimum needed for safety, because we don’t know enough to make lots of specific rules?” Both sets of laws were also “written in blood.”
It surprises people that Texas, the state of the six-shooter and Colt Single-Action Army, the ranches and rustlers, banned handgun carry for self-defense purposes for many decades. There were reasons, some good and some not so good, for that. As a sign of how old some rules were, one (since repealed) stated that you couldn’t carry a shotgun under the buckboard of a wagon. This was occasionally taken to mean “all long guns must be visible inside the car.” Not true, but a sign of how things lingered.
Then came the “Luby’s Massacre” in 1991. A lone gunman drive his pickup into the cafeteria’s store in Kileen, TX, then started shooting people at random. No one could shoot back. One man rushed him, but others didn’t pile on and so the nut kept shooting. He eventually killed himself after the police shot him 7 times. Twenty three died and twenty seven were injured.
One woman, a competition handgun shooter who lost both her parents, said enough. After an amazing amount of hard work, in 1995 concealed carry came to Texas. Suzanna Hupp led the charge, and gets the credit for a lot of the work.
Aviation rules come from accidents, for the most part. Two airliners sight-seeing over the Grand Canyon collided because they were not talking to each other and were not tracked on radar (radar not good enough at the time). Now everyone has to be accounted for, and if you are going certain directions, you have to be at certain altitudes. People flew into clouds and spun out the bottom, or hit hard-centered clouds [Cumulus granaticus]. Now we have Instrument Flight Rules. And so on. The rules are simple, clear, and assume that you the pilot are smart enough to know the difference between legal and wise. The most important rule is 14 CFR 91.3, better known as FAR 91.3,
(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.”
It doesn’t get much clearer and plainer than that. Are you on fire? Do what you need to. Air traffic controller trying to get you into a bad situation? You can refuse to comply. You’ll do a lot of explaining later, but you’ll be alive to do so. (ATC radar doesn’t show a lot of weather, for example, and air-traffic-controllers have tried to send planes into really nasty storms that they couldn’t see. The pilot could see the monsters, and balked.)
The vast majority of aviation regulations are like that. There’s a story behind most of them, and a reason. Now, sometimes we airdales disagree with the reason, and how the regulations are interpreted . . . I won’t go into that, since I don’t want my pilot readers to have strokes from high blood pressure, or be tempted to uncharitable language. Ditto firearms regulations.
Air planes and bang-sticks are marvelous tools and can be very rewarding to use. Both will kill or maim you if you’re dumb. Gravity is going to win. Incoming fire has the right of way. Those are things that can’t be argued away. Firearms and aircraft need operators who are mature enough to take problems seriously, and to be responsible for their own actions.
You know. Grown-ups!