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Magaw & Mineta Say "NO" To Armed Pilots

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Undersecretary John Magaw—who headed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (BATF) during the Clinton/Gore Administration—proclaimed on Tuesday that he would not allow properly trained commercial airline pilots or any other flight deck crew to have access to firearms as a last line of defense against terrorist hijackers. Magaw, who has been supported in his stance against arming pilots by Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Norman Mineta (a former California Congressman who received an "F" from NRA when he last sought re-election), told the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, "Pilots need to concentrate on flying the plane," then made it clear his position was that only federal air marshals could be trusted with firearms aboard commercial aircraft. While the general public overwhelmingly supports the idea of armed pilots, and the vast majority of pilots support the idea, it seems the major airlines are opposed to the concept. The airlines have exerted the necessary pressure on the DOT to oppose arming pilots, despite the more than 5,000 favorable comments reportedly received by the FAA in evaluating the issue.

Contact Secretary Mineta and Undersecretary Magaw and remind them that, just as we trust pilots to be able to fly complicated aircraft, we can trust them to be able to use a firearm as a last line of defense against terrorist hijackers. Also remind them that poll after poll shows the general public also trusts airline pilots with firearms in the cockpit. You can contact both the DOT and TSA using the same mailing address: 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, DC, 20590. E-mail can be sent to the DOT at [email protected], and to the TSA at [email protected].

In addition, there are two bills in Congress that would provide for the arming of properly trained flight deck crew. H.R. 4635—introduced by U.S. Representatives John Mica (R-Fla.) and Don Young (R-Alas.)—has 31 co-sponsors, and is gaining support. S. 2554 was introduced yesterday by U.S. Senator Bob Smith (R-N.H.), and already has five co-sponsors. The Senate bill would also provide self defense training for flight attendants, and is likely to gain their support. Please contact your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121 and your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121, and urge them to co-sponsor these bills. Those on the Internet can find additional contact information by using our "Write Your Reps" tool.

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