Katie 'Oakley'? Couric Suggests Air Marshals Shoot at Specific Body Parts

<p><img vspace="0" hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="/media/2005-12-08-NBCToday.jpg" />Has Katie Couric watched too many westerns? You know, the kind where the sheriff shoots the gun out of the bad guy's hand?</p><p>You'd think so, given the repeated questions she posed to a former air marshal in the wake of yesterday's shooting of a frantic passenger claiming to have a bomb aboard an American Airlines flight .</p><p>Katie's guest was former air marshal Tony Kuklinski, who stated that &quot;by all accounts I've seen, what [the air marshals] did was necessary.&quot;</p><p>Katie wasn't so sure:</p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right: 0px;"><p>&quot;Do they always shoot to kill, Tony? In other words, I guess the average person hearing this [on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Katie?] might think: isn't there a way where they could have shot this person and not killed him? Wounded him or incapacitated him in some way without killing him?&quot;</p></blockquote><p>As Kuklinksi patiently and professionally explained:</p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right: 0px;"><p>&quot;law enforcement officials aren't trained to shoot to kill; they're trained to shoot to prevent the action from taking place. We're not trained to precision-shoot in the knee or in the arm or in the finger to prevent something from taking place. Your accuracy goes down, the potential for a stray bullet or a missed shot hitting a bystander goes up tremendously.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>That wasn't enough to satisfy Katie: </p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right: 0px;"><p>&quot;I know that last July, London police shot and killed a Brazilian electrician because they'd mistaken him for a terror suspect. It raises the question: should there be further training? Do you think that air marshals should be taught to shoot at a specific location on a body?&quot;</p></blockquote><p>One sensed Kuklinski's rising frustration. Yet he remained patient and polite, and gave what is really the key answer:</p><p>&quot;Federal air marshals have one of the best training programs anywhere in the country. [Precision shooting creates] too much potential for secondary casualties. There's no time to sit there and take precision aim. [Attempting a more precise shot] - <strong>to shoot him in the shoulder, shoot him in the leg - it may not prevent the crime from being committed.</strong></p><p>It makes you wonder: what questions do you think Katie might pose if an air marshal, following her recommendations, shot a terrorist in the hand, who as a result was capable of detonating his bomb that in turn brought down a jumbo jet filled with passengers?</p>

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.