Congress, this week, revisited one of the recurring topics raised during last week’s Annual Meetings—the idea of allowing properly trained flight crew on commercial aircraft to be permitted to carry firearms to defend their aircraft. U.S. Representatives John Mica (R-Fla.) and Don Young (R-Alas.) recently introduced H.R. 4635, which seeks to establish a training program for arming flight crew, and on Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Aviation held hearings to discuss the subject.
In addition, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators held a press conference to announce the introduction of a companion bill to H.R. 4635 in the Senate. The group of Senators included Conrad Burns (R-Mt.), Zell Miller, Frank Murkowski (R-Alas.), and Bob Smith (R-N.H.).
Although President Bush signed into law the "Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001" last November, which includes language that allows properly trained commercial pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers to carry firearms aboard commercial airplanes, there has been no implementation of a program to train and equip flight deck crew members who wish to be prepared to use firearms as a last resort to defend commercial aircraft from hijackers.
Two weeks ago, we told you about an online petition spearheaded by several airline pilot organizations. The petition is being promoted to urge Congress and President Bush to move ahead to ensure the establishment of a program that will properly train and equip flight crew to act as an effective last line of defense against terrorists or other hijackers. If you have not yet signed the online petition urging President Bush to support arming airline flight crew, the deadline to sign has been extended. Please be sure to add your support. The petition can be found at http://secure-skies.org/. Also be sure to urge your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 4635, which seeks to implement the training program through legislation, rather than administratively. You can reach your U.S. Representative by calling (202) 225-3121. You can find additional contact information by using our "Write Your Reps" tool.