(Tuesday, November 26, 2002) -- Well, it took more than a year, but the long, hard battle to arm the nation's pilots has finally paid off.
President George Bush signed legislation yesterday that requires the federal government to begin arming commercial pilots -- a move that should help deter future terrorists from hijacking American planes.
From the very beginning, getting guns into airline cockpits was a huge, uphill battle. The President was lukewarm to the idea. The Federal Aviation Administration administrator was opposed. And the largest airline pilots association (ALPA) was also against the idea initially.
But after mobilizing tens of thousands of gun owners and pilots around the country, GOA supporters began to see the momentum change.
When the House and Senate passed legislation last year allowing pilots to be armed, many Americans celebrated -- perhaps a bit prematurely. The administration decided to torpedo the legislation by refusing to implement the law.
That's why the Congress had to return this year and pass legislation mandating that the Bush administration put armed pilots in the air. Both the House and Senate passed legislation with overwhelming numbers -- each chamber garnering a veto-proof majority.
Eventually, the administration was forced to put up the white flag. The armed pilots amendment was stuck into the Homeland Security Act, and with its enactment yesterday, the new law mandates that pilots will soon be carrying guns.
Upward of 30,000 pilots are expected to apply to carry arms. The legislation says that administration officials should begin arming pilots within 90 days.
Thanks for all your hard work. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a safe holiday!