The opinion piece is four years old but richly deserves mocking nevertheless: space writer James Oberg is bedwettingly horrified that the Russians still carry guns into space.
Oberg has written extensively about the Russian space program and is well aware that cosmonauts have landed off-course several times, out where the bear and wolf and hostile locals roam. He's well aware of it and brushes it off with, "...any off-course vehicle would have the entire U.S. rescue team at their disposal almost immediately.."
Riiiight. Because there's nothing at all difficult about sending a U.S. recovery team, hardware and all, to get in the way of a Russian operation in Kazakhstan, and no touchy issues of national and professional pride involved to slow efforts down, either.
It's the same argument against bearing arms you hear from other fools: "The police will protect you." Yes, when you need help immediately, the State is only minutes -- or, in the case of misaimed space travelers, hours or even a day -- away. What could possibly go wrong in that time?
But Oberg is still fretting -- 'cos, in the middle of one of the most hostile environments imaginable, aboard a space station filled with horrible (and readily accessable) ways to die -- there are also, packed away in the puzzle-pieces-fit survival kits in a couple of Soyuz capsules, g-u-n-s.
Pssst, James? There's a whole lot of hard, hard vacuum out there, too, and toxic coolant and high-voltage electricity and pure oxygen and probably even some nitrogen tetroxide, of which only a little dab'll snuff ya. There are even hammers and sharp, pointy objects. Firearms are the least of the crews' worries. If someone flips out (or goes coldly murderous) on ISS, they can obtain the means to do harm by merely reaching out.
Alas, he's still worried, in part because there's foreigners aboard ISS, and all of them -- each and every one of those mean, scary, nasty, awful people -- will have access to guns.
Just like they do on Earth.
Grow up, James. The Russians have guns in space. They're not going to give them up.
(For a little more woo and scolding on nitrogen tetroxide, along with some jaw-droppingly blithe puffery, try this PBS article.)
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