President Bush: Arm Our Pilots!

Ridge and Mineta Thumb Their Noses at “Armed Pilots” Law
— Both officials working to keep pilots disarmed

“Ridge’s and Mineta’s opposition makes it unlikely that the Bush administration will permit guns in cockpits…. White House officials say Ridge’s view reflects the thinking of President Bush, who has not commented publicly on the issue.”
— — USA Today, 3/4/02

(Monday, March 4, 2002) — Make sure you read that quote above. It clearly looks like officials in the executive department are working to subvert the “armed pilots” language that was signed into law thanks to your hard work last year.

President Bush signed the provision as part of a larger aviation security bill. But now it looks like key players in his administration are implementing the old “bait-n-switch.”

Secretary Norman Mineta, who was rated as an “F-” by GOA when he served in Congress, publicly stated his opposition to the armed pilots provision on Saturday. While stating this was his “personal” position, Mineta’s remark is outrageous because it flies in the face of what Congress intended.

Government officials are not supposed to elevate their personal opinions over laws that are consistent with the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Similarly, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge (certainly no friend to gun owners) stated today that he opposes the law as well. This is a bad omen for airline passengers. According to USA Today, “Ridge’s and Mineta’s opposition makes it unlikely that the Bush administration will permit guns in cockpits.”

In other words, pilots will be prevented from effectively protecting their passengers even while terrorists can still smuggle weapons and explosives on board. In December, a Florida man with a loaded pistol in his carry-on baggage boarded two flights in two cities before being arrested as he was preparing to board a third flight in Memphis.

And a federal investigator in southern Florida conducted his own security test and was able to carry three knives through a passenger checkpoint without anyone detecting the weapons.

Last week, USA Today stated that at least one gun may have been smuggled onto a plane by the terrorists on September 11. The paper reported on February 28 that one passenger may have been shot on American Airlines Flight 11 before it crashed into the World Trade Center.

Regardless of whether this report is true, the fact remains that passengers were disarmed on September 11 and had little opportunity to resist. The millions of dollars spent on airline security equipment cannot guarantee that planes will remain “weapons free.”

For this reason, the American public — including the overwhelming majority of pilots — support putting guns back in the cockpits.

Ridge and Mineta — and perhaps President Bush as well — favor stun guns. But this approach will only endanger the lives of those pilots who put their faith in these “toy guns.” Stun guns are useless against multiple attackers and would essentially only give a pilot one chance to hit a lone attacker.

It is imperative that citizens from all across this nation urge the President to press his underlings — like Mineta and Ridge — to uphold the law. Urge him to arm pilots with real guns so they can protect their passengers and crews.