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Senate Approves Armed Pilots While TSA Suggests Test Program

Saturday, September 7, 2002

Congress is back in session, and the U.S. Senate took swift action this week on arming pilots. U.S. Senator Bob Smith (R-N.H.) offered his version of armed pilots legislation as an amendment to H.R. 5005—the legislation that would create a Homeland Security Department. H.R. 5005 has yet to come to a final vote in the Senate. The amendment was approved on an overwhelming 87 - 6 vote on Thursday. If the current language becomes law, it would establish a program that would train commercial pilots to be able to use firearms as a last line of defense against terrorist hijackers.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which had been opposed to arming pilots, is now supporting a scaled-down version of the Smith amendment passed yesterday. The TSA was given the authority last year to implement a training program for armed pilots, but refused to do so under its former head John Magaw. New TSA head Admiral James M. Loy has outlined the parameters he would like to see for a limited test program.

The TSA’s support for a test program is certainly an improvement over its previous position. But NRA will continue to work to ensure any qualified pilot who wishes to take part in the armed pilots program is able to do so. Please contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to keep the Smith amendment intact, and to do everything possible to ensure any armed pilots program passed includes every pilot interested in participating in the program. And if your Senators voted in favor of the Smith amendment, please be sure to thank them. To reach your U.S. Senators, call (202) 224-3121. You can also use our "Write Your Representatives" tool to find additional contact information.

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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.