Sikhs Can Carry Knives on Airplanes in India

That's what the rules say:

Sikh passengers are allowed to carry Kirpan with them on board domestic flights. The total length of the 'Kirpan' should not exceed 22.86 CMs (9 inches) and the length of the blade should not exceed 15.24 CMs. (6 inches). It is being reiterated that these instructions should be fully implemented by concerned security personnel so that religious sentiments of the Sikh passengers are not hurt.

How airport security is supposed to recognize a Sikh passenger is not explained.

Posted on June 10, 2008 at 6:27 AM • 84 Comments

Comments

TheDoctorJune 10, 2008 6:56 AM

Trivial:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikh

As you can see, there are the five symbols:
Kesh (uncut hair)
Kanga (wooden comb)
Kaccha (specially-designed underwear)
Kara (Iron bracelet)
Kirpan (strapped sword)

The sword in itself is part of the recognising process, makeing things even easier :-)

Jeff DegeJune 10, 2008 7:03 AM

Sikhs are required by their religion to carry a sword or knife at all times, as a symbol of their willingness to fight injustice.

Members of the Church of John Moses Browning are required to, well, you know ...

Clive RobinsonJune 10, 2008 7:09 AM

Oddly this is not the first exception for carrying a sword etc onto aircraft.

There have been excemptions in the past for "international sports" persons who for whatever reason feel their swords should nbot be placed in the aircraft hold.

Not sure what the exact details are, but as the Olympics approches I expect that it will be brought back...

James MJune 10, 2008 7:24 AM

Something which is quite different when traveling domestically in India is that everyone gets a pat-down, a hand wand and a very brief interview (at least from my few observations). The security people seem very well trained and experienced, and I suspect that their judgement is the key defense.

Six_InchesJune 10, 2008 7:39 AM

I'm glad the blades are limited to 6 inches of length. Enough to fight injustice while not being truly dangerous to the just. Right?

Trichinosis USAJune 10, 2008 7:39 AM

Yeah, we wouldn't want those USAF types in Minot getting their feelings hurt or anything on the way to Louisiana.

JohnJune 10, 2008 7:47 AM

I thought they where allowed to have a symbolic miniature Kirban?

Personally I wish all religious followers of other religions where as peaceful and nice as the Sikh's I've met. I also like the fact that they are not allowed by their religion to go actively recruiting by banging on my door, preaching at me and handing me leaflets.

PaeniteoJune 10, 2008 7:54 AM

"How airport security is supposed to recognize a Sikh passenger is not explained."

Intelligent profiling?
Defining a fixed set of rules would probably be criticized by you, too...

U747June 10, 2008 8:05 AM

Well, on the upside... if you had a plane full of peaceful Sikhs, I really don't think a terrorist would try to take over the plane with something like a box-cutter.

I'd think twice, knowing there's a 2% (percentage of Indian Sikh population) chance a guy on this plane has a 6 inch knife.

AndrewJune 10, 2008 8:15 AM

> Intelligent profiling?

Woah.... let's not get ahead of ourselves here. At least in the US, I haven't been impressed with the "intelligence" of the TSA.

A few months ago, we flew to Portland from Philadelphia, and got through security without a boarding pass. Not that we didn't try to get a boarding pass, but our ticket machine printed receipts without a boarding pass. My fiance went through security without question. I was basically treated like a terrorist, got the whole wanding, full search sort of deal, but they still let me through. When we went to the desk at the gate, we got yelled at for not collecting our boarding passes, and were told we "shouldn't have been allowed through security."

But, things could be (and hopefully are) much different in India... But what if they're flying to the U.S.?

KieranJune 10, 2008 8:15 AM

How is it a security risk if all the law-abiding sikhs are carrying them too? You'd pretty much have to stuff half the cabin with terrorists for the numerical advantage.

socratesJune 10, 2008 8:19 AM

I'd rather fly in India with Indian security than in USA with USA "security".

TravelerJune 10, 2008 8:24 AM

The Doctor referred to the distinguising symbols for Gursikhs (The Sikhs who try to live life on Guru's ideals)

Sikhs are one of the most visually distinguishable people in the world with their distinctly shaped turbans
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
(This is a special group of Sikhs called Nihangs, and they generally don't fly)

Bruce: I don't have photoshop, but if you visualise yourself with a turban like
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... you would look pretty much like a Sikh

The Kirpan length is set to 9 inches, because most people carried 42 inch curved swords.
Pictures and description at http://www.gatka.de/SHASTRA.htm

On international flights, the Kirpan has to be checked in baggage while most Gursikhs wear the empty sheath in the flight

For a clean-shaven sikh, the exemption to carry the Kirpan does not apply

On the Security Outlook in India: At an airport in India in 2000, the pat-down security guard confiscated two tennis balls that I had put to hold my camcorder in place in my handbag. The balls were placed in a ziplock bag with a note stating "two round objects", but my bottle of brandy made it

clvrmnkyJune 10, 2008 8:29 AM

The same dialogue has been going on in Canada for years. There was a kerfuffle some years back about whether young adult Sikhs should wear their accoutrement to school.

There were similar discussions over hair length and headgear, and the rights and privileges of individuals to pursue interests, like becoming police officers and so on.

I'm glad we are having these discussions, and working these things out. The finer points may seem ridiculous at times, but this is how civil society works. As a citizen, I have to realize that the fact that I can't immediately expect everyone to cut their hair, remove their head gear or not carry symbols of their belief. The fact is that a lot of my expectations and assumptions are informed by Christian rationalist philosophy. I may not always notice this because I'm soaking in it.

On the other hand, there are situations where this modern life has to be adapted to, for safety and sensibility.

Compromise is met and we move on.

Realistically, I'm not sure I see that we are any less secure allowing Sikhs to carry their Kirpans aboard. Certainly I'm more afraid of people /sneaking/ weapons aboard, which is where we want trained people looking for hinky behaviour from anyone, including Sikhs. There is a sort of intention and responsibility I accept if someone is going to carry a centuries old symbol with them in such an obvious way.

But, there is a movie plot in there somewhere, I'm sure. (One that would be sure to anger Sikhs everywhere, I'm just as certain.)

The fact is that anyone, anywhere can randomly try to kill me with any number of weapons, and I'm not sure we can ever be "ready" for that. On a personal level, these are risks that I can't really prepare for. Yes, a Sikh could threaten me with a Kirpan, in the air and almost anywhere in Canada (where I live) but it's unlikely. I can also be run over by a crazy person in a car who deliberately plows his vehicle into a standing crowd.

I'd rather we spent our time preparing for the dangers that we know about, and can actually do something about.

For example, many airlines outside of the US have proper doors, locks and protocols separating the forward bulkhead from the passenger area. This makes it harder for anyone with /any/ sort of weapon to do more than what they could already do walking down the streets of our cities -- harass, wound and possibly kill some small number of people.

Is Air India one of those airlines, I wonder?

It is an interesting problem, to be sure.

Brent Royal-GordonJune 10, 2008 8:31 AM

If I recall correctly, ID cards in India include the subject's religion, since the laws there include tons of religious exceptions. I could be wrong, though.

KaukomieliJune 10, 2008 8:34 AM

@Paeniteo:

The point is:
There is no sensible way to determine if a person is a Sikh at the airport. Neither by profiling nor by fixed rules. Therefore it is pointless to differentiate between Sikhs and non-Sikhs, so one could as well allow anyone to carry knives of this size.

Q.E.D.

David HarperJune 10, 2008 8:45 AM

Clearly, the Indians are better at handling the terrorist threat than the Cowboys of the TSA ;-)

EoghanJune 10, 2008 8:52 AM

My religion requires me to carry a Colt 1911, .45 ACP.

I'm licensed in 6 states, and I'm an ordained Priest in my religion.

See y'all on the plane.

BobJune 10, 2008 9:00 AM

What happens when a Sikh, willing to fight injustice and carrying a Kirpan, witnesses a "high caste" fellow passenger mistreating a "low caste" fellow passenger?

Grumpy HackerJune 10, 2008 9:02 AM

I just flew from the U.S. to India and back last November. Security at Gandhi was as subjective as anywhere else I've been. When I was there, a guy at the outside door with a machine gun was turning away anyone who didn't have at least an itinerary. I had one--although there was no way to tell whether it was legit or entirely made up--but my colleauge did not and he was turned away. He just got back in line, giving him time to dig through his bag and find something that passed as an itinerary. The next step was giving your checked luggage to screeners. I did so; my colleague, now in a hurry, just ran past them and no one stopped him. When I found him standing in the line for boarding passes I told him he had to go back to get his luggage screened or they wouldn't let him check it. We were both told at the next "checkpoint" that we could not proceed without a printed ticket. They had not seemed to have heard of this strange, new concept of e-tickets. I actually managed to line-jump (sort of) past that checkpoint right to the check-in counter where the person there didn't have as much of a problem with it. My colleague, however, was almost escorted out of the airport (again), but managed to get by this checkpoint after both of us started arguing with the person about it, demanding they ask someone else for clarification. I mean come on, how could we have known we were supposed to have come with our tickets already printed? We rushed to the airport from our hotel and it was late at night on a Saturday. The madness didn't stop there. Our next checkpoint was another long line to get past another guy with a machine gun who was wanding/patting people before the carry-on security screeners. He turned us away because--get this--we didn't have paper luggage tags on our carry-on bags for him to stamp. Wow, what a security measure. So we had to go back toward the ticket counter and get those silly little paper name tags for our carry-ons, then get back in line. All he did after wanding us (quickly) and patting us (quickly) was to rubber stamp the paper tag. The walk-through metal detector and bag screening machine were like any other. The final bit of checking came at boarding. The ticket-taker naturally checks your ticket (who knows how closely--I've seen people in the last month get on the wrong plane here in the U.S.) but after that your carry-on is emptied on a table and you're asked some standard questions like "is this your stuff." THAT was really the ONLY part of the whole security process that seemed likely to work.

AlfredJune 10, 2008 9:08 AM

"I'd think twice, knowing there's a 2% (percentage of Indian Sikh population) chance a guy on this plane has a 6 inch knife."

Bzzt! Wrong!

Assuming that you need only one Sikh with a Kirpan to stop a hijacking, that tiny 2% becomes very substantial when there is more than one other person on board.

The formula for the probability that there is at least one Sikh with Kirpan can be given by the formula:
P=1-(1-S)^N
where S is the proportion of Sikh in the population (.02 in this case) and N is the number of passengers.


This is because the probability of two independent events (a given passenger is a Sikh) BOTH happening is the product of their probabilities. Thus, with two people, who are both 98% likely to be non-Sikh, there is a 96% chance that they are both non-Sikh. For 100 passengers the probability that there are no Sikh passengers on board is less than 15 percent, and for 250 passengers the chance is less than 1, thus virtually guaranteeing that there will be people with large knives on the aircraft that you are trying to hijack with your puny box cutter.

PaeniteoJune 10, 2008 9:09 AM

@Kaukomieli: "There is no sensible way to determine if a person is a Sikh at the airport. Neither by profiling nor by fixed rules."

I might disagree. I suppose Indian security personell see lots of "genuine" Sikhs every day. Using their expertise, they might be able to spot the occasional terrorist that masquerades as Sikh, because those "just don't look right".
I assume that a very short talk by a skilled interviewer will be able to sort out all but the most well-trained impostors (if there are any, that is).

Furthermore, one could argue that, as long as at least 50% of the Sikhs on a given flight genuine, the whole thing will be a non-issue, as the genuine Sikhs will fight the fake ones, once those choose to give up their cover. ;-)

NicoJune 10, 2008 9:16 AM

"It is being reiterated that these instructions should be fully implemented by concerned security personnel so that religious sentiments of the Sikh passengers are not hurt."


My "religious sentiments" are being hurt by this.

SejanusJune 10, 2008 9:17 AM

I could never see why religions deserve such a special treatment nowdays. It's as if they were not just another kind of delusion.

Why I cannot carry loaded Browning M2 into plane? My religion called "machinegunnism" strictly orders my to carry it everywhere.

SejanusJune 10, 2008 9:19 AM

@ Jeff Dege:

damn, similar minded :) I really haven't read your message prior to posting my own :)

Rebecca BloodJune 10, 2008 9:30 AM

That's sort of funny, since I was held up in security while they thoroughly searched my bag for scissors, which one of the screeners thought he had seen in my bag.

There are lots of interesting differences between Indian security and the US. Separate screening for women, for example. Women are wanded by female personnel behind a curtain (presumably to ensure their modesty - so many layers of sari to poke around under). All bags are tagged and then stamped by security personnel after going through the metal detector. Men with guns at the entrance, allowing only those with tickets (or itineraries) to enter the airport - airline ticket windows open to the outside so you can purchase your ticket.

AlexJune 10, 2008 9:31 AM

When I travelled in India it was hell with batteries. They were somehow convinced that all batteries were a deadly security risk so they would confiscate them and promise to give them back when the flight landed. Only when you landed the batteries were somehow missing. If you had a camera with expensive rechargeable batteries, it was a real pain in the neck. What it added to security (or why, if it was such a good idea, nowhere else seems to do it) was never explained...

sooth_sayerJune 10, 2008 9:44 AM

How to tell a sikh ?

Q.E.D -- they are the crazy one's who are trying to carry knives on the plane :-)

They probably don't want to admit that their symbols were meant to ride on horses solo.

It's not that they haven't ever hijacked a plane; they have .. but mostly used guns and grenades for it; so don't worry all is well till they show up at JFK.

AndrewJune 10, 2008 9:48 AM

I am vastly amused by the comments here as I work with several Sikhs, who are among my very best guards. Diligent, polite, attentive and very patient with the ignorance they must tolerate daily.

I would be very comfortable flying in a plane with one or more Sikhs carrying knives. Almost 100% hijacker insurance. (I suppose there's a small chance that someone could get a knife away from the Sikh carrying it, but I wouldn't sell that someone life insurance.)

For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirpan

Eoghan says "My religion requires me to carry a Colt 1911, .45 ACP. I'm licensed in 6 states, and I'm an ordained Priest in my religion. See y'all on the plane."

With such credentials, I'm sure you will have no problem becoming a peace officer and obtaining travel orders from your agency, plus the FAA approval to fly armed. Or perhaps not.

Please forgive me, but a faith with fewer members and a shorter history (if a longer claimed history) doesn't inspire as much confidence. Besides, what faith requires you to carry a firearm as opposed to a weapon? This inquiring pagan would like to know.

BatteriesJune 10, 2008 9:59 AM

Alex: Batteries can explode due to heat, even if you ignore the issues Sony and Dell had last year

Batteries can be used to detonate stuff, if a bigger bottle of Enfamil (baby milk) can be used explosively, no one would let the batteries get by

The problem is not what all is banned, its what protection is being achieved by the ban, and till now, most of the banned stuff has primarily caused more passenger discomfort than providing an aura of safety

syberghostJune 10, 2008 10:10 AM

We have Sikh employees who don't carry their knives to work. It appears to me to be something about which they're flexible, rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

JeffHJune 10, 2008 11:13 AM

How do you recognize a sikh passenger?

Well, pallid complexion, fever, and vomiting are usually a dead giveaway.

I'll be here all week folks.

dragonfrogJune 10, 2008 11:56 AM

Bruce, I'm surprised you're not consistently pointing to all these pointy object-interdiction efforts as examples of fighting old threats.

No one is ever going to be able to hijack a plane with sharp/pointy weapons again - not a box cutter, not a kirpan, not spiky body armour like KISS and a whole crate of halberds.

The first 9/11 attackers won because everyone assumed that there would be hostage negotiations, after which they would all walk away tired and unkempt but unhurt. No one fought back because even the small likelihood of serious injury wasn't worth it based on those assumptions.

Can you imagine what would happen if someone tried to take over the cockpit that way today? A hundred passengers would jump on the sword-wielding schmuck and pummel him within an inch of his life with paperbacks and plastic dinner trays - Fool me twice, shame on me.

Security could allow everyone to get on planes with all the box cutters, meat cleavers, hacksaws, and javelins they want - those items stopped being a hijacking threat on September 12, 2001.

Nomen PublicusJune 10, 2008 11:58 AM

If the aircraft is secure, do we care if the passengers have knives? It's not that easy to bring down a plane with a knife.

As many have pointed out in the past, following 9/11 if one or more terrorists attempt to take over a plane armed just with knives they are unlikely to succeed. Indeed, they are unlikely to survive the attempt.

Noble_SerfJune 10, 2008 12:02 PM

Let 'em all carry whatever. We fly several times a year, and I'm so tired of the theater.

I suppose Mr. Schneier posted this to encourage discussion of what really makes passengers secure. Is it the illusion of security (no knives for even the Sikhs) or an effort for case-by-case security (allowing Sikhs with knives, after some sort of yet-to-be perfected screening).

TeslaJune 10, 2008 12:06 PM

I know of at least 2 Indian Airlines planes being hijacked by Sikhs wielding kirpan in the early '80s. What's most interesting to me about this decision is the implication that in India, known risks aren't being categorically eliminated. I wonder if that's easier or harder to justify to the populace than the reverse is to justify in the U.S.?

Tangerine BlueJune 10, 2008 12:14 PM

Reinforced cockpits should ensure that a knife blade will never again be a WMD.

cjcJune 10, 2008 12:22 PM

According to some of the news reports I've seen since the recent knife attack in Tokyo, there is talk about restricting sales of "long" (20 cm-ish) knives. I hope no Sikhs plan on traveling to Japan or what any Sikhs living there plan to do.

I've been surprised there has been no comment by Bruce about some of the brewing overreactions to the Tokyo knife attack.

cjcJune 10, 2008 12:22 PM

According to some of the news reports I've seen since the recent knife attack in Tokyo, there is talk about restricting sales of "long" (20 cm-ish) knives. I hope no Sikhs plan on traveling to Japan or what any Sikhs living there plan to do.

I've been surprised there has been no comment by Bruce about some of the brewing overreactions to the Tokyo knife attack.

Jeff DegeJune 10, 2008 1:00 PM

"I suppose Mr. Schneier posted this to encourage discussion of what really makes passengers secure. Is it the illusion of security (no knives for even the Sikhs) or an effort for case-by-case security (allowing Sikhs with knives, after some sort of yet-to-be perfected screening)."

The fundamental problem is that we've focused mostly on making individuals helpless. We pretend that we can keep people safe by imposing some screening system that will keep the bad guys away.

It's an approach that can never work.

We need, rather, to encourage every potential victim to be as dangerous to an attacker as he or she can possibly be.

Why do Sikhs wear the kirpan? From wikipedia:

"to protect the weak from tyranny and slavery, to maintain a state of harmony and security, to allow for the free development of trade, craftsmanship, arts & literature and to safeguard and protect the universal right of all beings to live their lives in a peaceful, stable and sheltered environment."

This is incompatible with an unarmed society. If you make people unable to protect themselves, they will insist on a police state, for their own protection.

Of course, that police state will inevitably fail to protect them, but it's the only choice you've left to them.

John David GaltJune 10, 2008 1:19 PM

9/11 could never have happened if authorities hadn't already been preventing you and me from going armed on aircraft.

Maybe I'll start a religion that requires its followers to carry arms. Then we can get the same deal the Sikhs get.

Jeff DegeJune 10, 2008 1:43 PM

"9/11 could never have happened if authorities hadn't already been preventing you and me from going armed on aircraft."

It's the mindset that matters more than the weapon. As long as people think that someone else is responsible for their own safety, they will be vulnerable.

xd0sJune 10, 2008 2:01 PM

"Security could allow everyone to get on planes with all the box cutters, meat cleavers, hacksaws, and javelins they want - those items stopped being a hijacking threat on September 12, 2001."

Actually the morning of Sept 11 was the end, with United Flight 93.

As far as gun religions, recall that Sikh's right to carry and the rules commented on are in India only. They are 2% of the overall population of India (making then about 0.33% of the world's population) and part of religion that has existed there for a long time (I didn't bother to look up the reference for exactly how long).

If you form a religion, establish it and get over 2% of the population of the US to convert to your religion, you MIGHT be able to carry on US planes too.

Until then, the focus should be more on the fact that bans on knives are stupid as security against hijacking planes. Guns with high velocity projectiles, flammable content in the bullets, and (assuming machine guns or automatics) a means to inflict significantly more casualties quicker than knives, the threats of guns is still notably higher than the threat of knives when its just a safety issue.

I'd take my chance against a nutball with a knife over a nutball with a gun any day, but I'd prefer to not have nutballs on my airplane :)

Jeff DegeJune 10, 2008 2:06 PM

"I'd take my chance against a nutball with a knife over a nutball with a gun any day, but I'd prefer to not have nutballs on my airplane :)"

You don't get that choice. And no matter what the politicians promise you, you will never have that choice.

Timmy303June 10, 2008 2:55 PM

[How airport security is supposed to recognize a Sikh passenger is not explained.]

That's a snap! They're brown and wear turbans!

AnonymousJune 10, 2008 2:57 PM

@Alfred

Thanks for the statistics but you're neglecting a few others.

TSA is documented as missing about half of the fake bombs, knives, and guns run through as tests.

I'm not sure what the percentage rate is that TSA confiscates actual knives from forgetful passengers, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was 3-5% of all passengers screened. So in the US, which has a lower percentage of Sikhs, what are the odds that someone on a flight of 200 passengers is actually carrying a knife or other prohibited weapon?

bobJune 10, 2008 3:17 PM

I'd rather have a sane guy with a gun on the plane than a nutball with a stick of gum, used kleenex or a short piece of string.

GeorgeJune 10, 2008 3:46 PM

About a decade before 9/11, I happened to be seated next to a Sikh on a flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. We got to talking, so I asked him how he got his sword past airport security. He laughed, and showed me a small comb (kanga?) that had a metal inlay about a centimeter long, shaped like a sword. He explained that this little symbolic sword was sufficient to meet the religious obligation.

While it's possible that there are different Sikh sects or differences in individual interpretations of the requirements, I suspect the referenced article is a case where security has been perverted if not compromised by political considerations.

David HarrisonJune 10, 2008 6:28 PM

"9/11 could never have happened if authorities hadn't already been preventing you and me from going armed on aircraft."

Are you serious? Or this this comment dripping in sarcasm?

"Intelligent profiling?
Defining a fixed set of rules would probably be criticized by you, too..."

I assumed the point of the original comment was to ask how you're supposed to differentiate between a real Sikh, and someone pretending to be a Sikh so they can smuggle a knife on the plane. Add pop quizzes to the boarding process?

VickiJune 10, 2008 7:58 PM

It's also not clear how useful it in fact would be to be able to distinguish a real Sikh from a Sikh-impersonator (note that that category logically includes someone raised as a Sikh who has converted to Islam or Christianity). Even aside from the possibility of a Sikh attempting to hijack or destroy an airplane to further what (he saw as) a Sikh cause, there are political groups that don't limit their recruiting on religious grounds.

If getting the standard Sikh weapon onto an airplane would be useful to terrorists, sooner or later a terrorist cell will send people to study enough about the Sikh religion to pass themselves off as adherents,grow their hair, and get false passports in the name "Singh." If it wouldn't, there's no reason to limit that permission to Sikhs.

LeoJune 10, 2008 11:42 PM

"How airport security is supposed to recognize a Sikh passenger is not explained."

It's not that hard. And if you've ever seen a Sikh without his turban, as I did at work one day (how it came off I didn't see), they really don't cut their hair. If someone was going to fake being a Sikh they'd have to spend years letting their hair grow or claim to be a recent convert.

I was looking over a Sikh once while waiting to take the ride to the top of the St. Louis Arch, trying to work up the nerve to go over and ask him about his religion, when I realized that I was behaving like some idiot who thought he might be a Muslim terrorist. After that I was too embarrassed to go near him. I still wonder what story he tells about that experience.

SejanusJune 11, 2008 3:03 AM

"As many have pointed out in the past, following 9/11 if one or more terrorists attempt to take over a plane armed just with knives they are unlikely to succeed."


Oh, yes, and after the first killing and robbering with the help of a knife (which happened to be at 541 368 B.C. according to U.S. security police records) the robbery with a knife cannot possibly succeed again.

xd0sJune 11, 2008 10:07 AM

re: nutballs and guns vs knives

@Jefe Dege
"You don't get that choice. And no matter what the politicians promise you, you will never have that choice."

@Bob
"I'd rather have a sane guy with a gun on the plane than a nutball with a stick of gum, used kleenex or a short piece of string."

Exactly correct. A sane, gun-wielding person is fairly safe. As is a sane person with just about any object currently banned.

And as discussed we don't get that choice of choosing nutball vs sane co-passengers when flying, and honestly I'd be VERY scared if the TSA began to try. Their idea of psych profiling and "extra search" when applied to that area just creeps me out.

So given that sane people are sane, and nutballs are nutballs, and we can't choose that fact nor determine which is which ahead of them taking some action:

1) Current weapon bans make sense from a safety perspective (not as much from a security from terrorism perspective, though it still can be applied)

2) If forced to choose, knives still far outweigh guns in the safety of the masses category and control of the situation is far easier for the crew and other passengers.

3) Even if you could prove you were sane (in court, not by assertion), AND you managed to get a religion started that had a "sentiment" about guns that could be offended, the fact remains that knives are simply safer from a liability and risk management perspective. I have never heard of a knife misfiring, accidental discharging, etc. So the airlines (independant of the TSA et al. ) would still desire and promote gun controls as a safety means.

N SinghJune 11, 2008 10:47 AM

Just to clear out some air here. The security personnel deployed at the airport keep a record of sikh passengers carrying kirpan (Ceremonial Dagger, is the right word) for every flight. It is recorded at the security check, before boarding the flight.

N singhJune 11, 2008 10:50 AM

One more addition, Every sikh does not carry kirpan, only baptized sikhs carry kirpans.

dragonfrogJune 11, 2008 12:06 PM

@Bob
"I'd rather have a sane guy with a gun on the plane than a nutball with a stick of gum, used kleenex or a short piece of string."

Sign me up for the nutball with the stick of gum.

Sure, the nutball is more likely to cause an unpleasant scene. But have you ever heard of a short piece of string going off accidentally and injuring someone?

Jeff DegeJune 11, 2008 12:39 PM

"But have you ever heard of a short piece of string going off accidentally and injuring someone?"

Oddly enough, I have a slice on my finger that is just about finished healing, after an accident with a knife a couple of days ago.

For the record, there are ways of handling guns that are safe, and ways that are not.

And I'm pretty sure that if we have the TSA establish rules for how passengers must handle firearms onboard planes, they'll mandate unsafe handling.

After all, that's exactly what they did to the pilots.

samJune 11, 2008 1:08 PM

dragonfrog,

Planes have been hijacked since 9/11. WIthout the passengers pummeling the hijackers.

So your assumptions are flawed.

Joel RosenbergJune 11, 2008 3:34 PM

Easy:

"Mr. Singh? Are you a Sikh?"

"Yes."

"Have a nice flight, sir."

Doug CoulterJune 11, 2008 7:55 PM

Sounds like we have enough people here alone to start a nice religion ourselves. Perhaps we should. I know I feel much safer when I'm packing. Except when I discover I've forgotten I am and have somehow gotten to the "wrong" side of the metal detector, obviously set for a low false alarm rate, numb enough to miss my tiny titanium alloy gun.

One wonders whether to admit the mistake and go through who knows what, or just sneak back out?
I've taken the latter course, of course.

Let's call the new religion "self reliance". Or "personal responsibility" or even "survival of the fittest". Perhaps simply "be prepared". Yes, I know the above have been co-opted by organizations and religions many admire, who just didn't quite put it all together.

Or simply "the ready". Having a gun (or knife or piece of string -- or simple situational awareness and physical skill) doesn't automatically make one the victor or even a survivor in a bad situation, but they can surely help.
I am considered armed, for instance, even while naked -- black belt. How would they search for >that

NeighborcatJune 11, 2008 10:16 PM

"Sikhs are required by their religion to carry a sword or knife at all times, as a symbol of their willingness to fight injustice."

Ah-HA! Then they really ARE enemies of the USA...

surrealvortexJune 11, 2008 11:38 PM

Most forms of identification in India state religion, but not all of them.

Sympathizing with the sentiments of minority religions is essential for any political party to come to power and to remain in power here. Recently, upto 50% of seats in the Indian Institutes of Technology, some of the premier technical institutions in the world, have been reserved for the minorities.

India tries to appease the minority to ridiculous extents and this is seriously not funny anymore.

JasJune 12, 2008 3:46 PM

Sejanus, John David,

In regards to your "machinegunnism" religion comment, go ahead and get 26 million followers and wait about 500 years and and you can demand the same rights the Sikhs received *in their country of origin*. Even after being only 3% of the Indian population more Sikhs died fighting for independence than the other 90-some% of Hindus. They earned the right in India.

A religion is very distinct from a bunch of idiots looking to tote machine guns around.

Alex,

Those are related to Sikhs who are fighting for independence and their own soverign state. All those who struggle for independence are called "terrorist" by the regime in power. Sikhs have never willingly killed innocent people.


Comment 1: Carrying a miniature kirpan is still a contentious point in the Sikh community. Some have accepted this, others do not based on their own interpretation.

Comment 2: This rule of Sikhi applies to men and women

Correction 1: Only "baptized" Sikhs carry such a dagger

Correction 2: This is for domestic flights within India, not international flights

Doug CoulterJune 14, 2008 1:25 PM

@jas

Sure, if it takes 500 yrs, we'd better get going soon!

Actually, we got going around the American revolution, at the very latest -- the right to keep and bear arms is long standing, only recently abridged with disastrous results in most places it has happened. And we have a LOT more than 26 million in this country alone.

The total number of guns and yearly ammo sales prove that guns are just about the safest tool there is. The fraction of either compared to what exists used wrongly is the lowest of any tool extant. Millions of guns (over 100 million last I checked, maybe twice that) and billions of rounds of ammo, all expended with no harm except to targets and hunting. Far better record than say, automobiles.

People who have studied law and consequences will know that the police etc have NO responsibility to protect you ahead of "the event" -- only to *try* and catch the bad guy later. Plenty of legal precedent in that case. As in rejecting suits from people who called the police frantically in known bad situations, and the police did not respond until after the death of an innocent. Too late, sorry.

And we should actually be glad of this -- else police would sit outside the bars and liquor store and preemptively arrest people who are assumed about to be drunk, for example. There are many others -- our laws are conveniently flexibly enforced in most cases.
In my state alone, certain normal sex acts with one's legal spouse are felonies, for example.

Personally, though I have some Class III permits (hey, this stuff is fun!), I find machine guns (full auto) not to be the tool of choice in virtually every situation, even the Army set the current auto infantry weapons to limit to 3 shot bursts. I get far more points on paper targets per second on semi-auto myself, and so do most others. Mostly I shoot revolvers and bolt rifles, in competition. Not as remunerative as say, the PGA (if you're Tiger Woods) but it more than pays for itself, fun not counted as an extra bonus.

Please explain why someone who cares about saving their own life, and possibly bystanders, when no one else is interested or capable, is an idiot. I'd really like to hear something lucid, but I tend to be disappointed.


MikeJune 15, 2008 2:15 PM

"How airport security is supposed to recognize a Sikh passenger is not explained."

You are kidding right?

A large turban, a beard for the most part a last name of Singh. In India, its pretty easy. Indeed, in most of the world it is.

Too bad there weren't a few Sikhs on those 9-11 flights, there may have been someone armed to fight back against the box cutters.

singhJune 16, 2008 5:29 PM

wht a load of blardy bla bla is goin on here im sikh and let me tell u we are NOT allowed to carry blades on planes, i have air travelled many times the 6 inch blade which we would nornally carry gets replaced with a tiny 1-2 inch blade which can be worn as a necklace, and even if we did carry a blade its to protect humanity from the bad guys- which is now a good time to also state that when the carrying of sword blade was introduced the bad guys the sikhs were fighting then were the muslim extremists, maybe iv gone off the topic now but in sikhism we dont hold exclusive rights to god we see every1 as gods creatures, sooooo if ur lucky enough to be seated next to a sikh on a plane be happy that you have some1 who is readly to rise up and fight injustice if need be,
im sorry if im repeating anything which has already been said

CowardJune 17, 2008 5:00 AM

in fact, in London Heathrow, they let them through security gates with those knives. It's not advertised anywhere, but it does happen!

singhJune 17, 2008 5:59 PM

no they doesn't the blade is removed then taken and then given back after the plane has landed.

DamanJune 26, 2009 3:04 AM

Kesh (uncut hair)
Kanga (wooden comb)
Kaccha (specially-designed underwear)
Kara (Iron bracelet)
Kirpan (strapped sword)
THESE ARE THE FIVE KAKAR THAT OUR FATHER GURUGOBIND SINGH JI PROVIDE US WE R HERE BECAUSE OF THEM AND WE DAMN NOT CARE ABT ANYONE

1 THING I LIKE 2 TELL A STORY FROM PAST :
IN 1980 GOVERNMENT BANNED KARPAN'S IN AIRCRAFTS AND OUR SIKH LEADER TAHORA JI SAID AIRCRAFTS CAN BE HIJACKED WITH TOYS ALSO AND PRESENT GOVENMENT LAUGHED AT THEM THEN A SIKH NAMED GURBACHAN SINGH HIJACKED PLANE WITH A SPORTBALL WITHOUTANY MOTIVE OF DISTRUCTION THIS IS WHAT SIKH R MADE OFF !!!!!!!

DamanJune 26, 2009 3:06 AM

Kesh (uncut hair)
Kanga (wooden comb)
Kaccha (specially-designed underwear)
Kara (Iron bracelet)
Kirpan (strapped sword)
THESE ARE THE FIVE KAKAR THAT OUR FATHER GURUGOBIND SINGH JI PROVIDE US WE R HERE BECAUSE OF THEM AND WE DAMN NOT CARE ABT ANYONE

1 THING I LIKE 2 TELL A STORY FROM PAST :
IN 1980 GOVERNMENT BANNED KARPAN'S IN AIRCRAFTS AND OUR SIKH LEADER TAHORA JI SAID AIRCRAFTS CAN BE HIJACKED WITH TOYS ALSO AND PRESENT GOVENMENT LAUGHED AT THEM THEN A SIKH NAMED GURBACHAN SINGH HIJACKED PLANE WITH A SPORTBALL WITHOUTANY MOTIVE OF DISTRUCTION NO ONE WAS TORCHERED IN THAT NOR ANY PUNISHMENT NOR ANY DISCRIMINATION AND HE SURRENDERED HIMSELF AFTER THAT !!!!!
AND EVEN HE WAS PUNISHED FOR 4-5 YRS SHIT ON SUCH A GOVERNMENT

GUNBIR SINGH CHADHAMarch 24, 2011 5:36 AM

I AM WRITING THIS COMMENT TO INFORM ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE WRITING CRAP ABOUT MY RELIGION
SIKHS FORM ABOUT 2% OF THE TOTAL INDIAN POPULATION BUT THEY FORM 20% OF THE INDIAN ARMED FORCES WHICH IS 1/5 OF THE TOTAL

THERE MORE TO IT
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...


GO TO THIS LINK
IT SAYS-
By the advent of World War I, Sikhs in the British Indian Army totaled over 100,000, i.e. 20% of the British Indian Army. In the years to 1945, 14 Victoria Crosses were awarded to the Sikhs, a per capita record given the size of the Sikh Regiments.[62] In 2002, the names of all Sikh VC and George Cross winners were inscribed on the pavilion monument of the Memorial Gates[82] on Constitution Hill next to Buckingham palace, London.[83] Lieutenant Colonel Chanan Singh Dhillon was instrumental in campaigning for the memorial building.
During World War I, Sikh battalions fought in Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli and France. Six battalions of the Sikh Regiment were raised in World War II, and served at El Alamein and in Burma, Italy and Iraq, winning 27 battle honours.
Across the world, Sikhs are commemorated in Commonwealth cemeteries.[84]
"In the last two world wars 83,005 turban wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded. They all died or were wounded for the freedom of Britain and the world, and during shell fire, with no other protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith."
—General Sir Frank Messervy[85]
"British people are highly indebted and obliged to Sikhs for a long time. I know that within this century we needed their help twice [in two world wars] and they did help us very well. As a result of their timely help, we are today able to live with honour, dignity, and independence. In the war, they fought and died for us, wearing the turbans."
—Sir Winston Churchill[86]

NOW SHOW MY RELIGION SOME RESPECT

HarpreetApril 26, 2013 4:30 AM

I read through all the comments posted by people here.. Some are ignorant, some are rude..some are trying to understand about Sikh religion...and some are making fun..
Let me tell you all.. no matter what religion you follow..unless you show some respect to others and their sentiments..you have deprived yourself from the basic level of humanity and lack an open mind to understand what other demography on earth follow.

I am a Sikh..and mentalities like this toward my religion hurts me..But the only option I have is to make you all aware about it. Sikh Religion is the most peaceful and youngest religion in the world..We don't hurt anyone and we are here to protect anyone( no matter what religion you follow) from injustice..

Because we have been taught that there is only one supreme power which I am sure everyone here understands if you have read your religious book be it Bible.

Don't be judgmental and form an opinion about Sikh religion when you don't know what it stands for..
I have one request for everyone no matter what religion the other person follows show some humanity , compassion and love. Because these are the pillars of mankind and we are losing it badly and rapidly.

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