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Remind All Lawmakers to Support Arming Pilots

Friday, June 21, 2002

Legislation that would provide for the arming of properly trained flight deck crew is gaining momentum in both chambers of Congress. These proposals—H.R. 4635 in the House and S. 2554 in the Senate—would mandate programs that would allow properly trained commercial airline pilots and other flight deck crew to have access to firearms as a last line of defense against terrorist hijackers. On Wednesday, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Aviation approved H.R. 4635 after it was amended. The bill now seeks to establish a two-year test program that will eventually allow for as many as 1,400 commercial airline pilots to have access to firearms aboard their aircrafts. While NRA would like to see this option extended to all properly trained flight deck crew, this legislation represents a good first step in the right direction.

While some anti-gun lawmakers still balk at the idea of arming pilots to defend against terrorist hijackers—preferring to rely on reinforced cockpit doors and the unthinkable, last-step "option" of U.S. military aircraft shooting down commercial airplanes—many lawmakers clearly understand why arming pilots is a good idea when dealing with the threat of terrorist hijackings. "If something were to happen, the last option is to shoot down an airplane," pointed out U.S. Representative John Thune (R-S.D.). "We want to avoid that at all costs." Arming pilots will best ensure we never see a repeat of September 11, and we don’t have to worry about the possibility of that "last option."

H.R. 4635 now has 52 co-sponsors, and is scheduled to be addressed next Wednesday, June 26, by the full House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. S. 2554, which extends the training program to all qualified flight deck crew, has 11 co-sponsors, and both bills also provide self-defense training for flight attendants. 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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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.