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Pilots` Firearm Training Program Facing Major Delays

Friday, June 13, 2003

In a recent article in USA Today (June 6), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was criticized for actions seen by two key lawmakers as nothing more than an attempt to delay the arming of qualified pilots.

In an unexpected move, the TSA divulged its convoluted plan to uproot the program from its current location in Georgia-where it`s been for less than a year-to a remote location in southeastern New Mexico.

Commenting on these developments, Representative John Mica (R-Fla.), head of the House Aviation Subcommittee said, "It`s one more bureaucratic disaster devised by those who want to make this more complex and expensive than it has to be." In a bipartisan echoing of these sentiments, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) lamented, "It`s just another attempt...to disrupt the program at the behest of the airlines who have always opposed arming pilots."

Rest assured that NRA-ILA is determined to see this vital law implemented without further delay.

In a related story, CNSNews.com reported that on Thursday (June 12) the U.S. Senate approved legislation that would allow qualified commercial cargo pilots to be armed. Under this amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration`s (FAA) reauthorization bill, cargo pilots would be eligible to participate in the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program. Currently, the program is limited to commercial passenger pilots only.

Both passenger and cargo pilots were included in the original legislative mandate. It wasn`t until the legislation passed through the House and Senate conference committee that revisions excluding the cargo pilots from participation were added. Commenting on the developments, the amendment`s primary sponsor, Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) said, "By approving this legislation today the Senate has sent a strong message that we are serious about providing for our nation`s homeland security."

A conference committee must still reconcile the differences between the two versions of the FAA bill. If the amendment subsequently remains in place, no separate House action will be required and the legislation will be included in the bill that goes to the President.

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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.