-- Asks the President to send TSA chief packing

(Springfield, VA) -- Gun Owners of America welcomed cargo pilots to the world of concealed carry this past Friday, after the President signed GOA-backed legislation into law. While a small provision in this new law will allow cargo pilots to carry firearms onto their planes, GOA remains concerned that the administration will work to limit the number of cargo pilots who can carry guns, just as it has impeded the number of eligible passenger pilots.

"We are excited to see that common sense legislation has finally passed to allow cargo pilots to carry firearms in their planes," said GOA Communications Director Erich Pratt. "Cargo planes are much more vulnerable to terrorist hijackers than are passenger planes.

"Unfortunately, this new law signed by the President amounts to a hollow victory," Pratt said, "since the administration is already doing everything it can to deter passenger pilots from applying for handgun certification."

Captain Tracy Price published an editorial in The Washington Times last week which detailed the extent to which the administration has dragged its feet in this area. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has "very intentionally and successfully" minimized the number of volunteers to the armed pilots program, Price says, by employing "thinly veiled threats" and making the program extremely difficult to get into.

"One must remember that the administration opposed this program from the very beginning," Pratt said. "When Congress passed legislation to arm pilots in 2001 -- just two months after 9-11 -- the administration refused to arm even one pilot. Thus, Congress had to pass additional legislation in 2002, ordering the executive branch to start arming pilots immediately.

"While the TSA has technically complied with last year's law, it has only done so in the manner of a little child who goes to his room when ordered -- stomping his feet along the way."

Pilots' groups have stated that at the current rate of arming pilots, it will take 15 years to arm all pilots who wish to be armed.

"We are calling on President Bush to bring in TSA chief David Stone for some career counseling and order him to quicken the pace for certifying pilots," Pratt said. "Short of that, we ask President Bush to send Stone packing."

-- GOA --

Erich Pratt is Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America, a national gun lobby with over 300,000 members located at 8001 Forbes Place, Springfield, VA 22151.

Either Erich Pratt or another GOA spokesman is available for press interviews.

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