Congress To TSA: Arm More Pilots Or Suffer Consequences

Congress to TSA: Arm More Pilots or Suffer Consequences

Gun Owners of America alerted you in January to legislation that would soon be introduced by two pro-gun legislators, Senator Jim Bunning (R) of Kentucky and Rep. Joe Wilson (R) of South Carolina.

Last week, both legislators announced the introduction of their bills at a press conference that was attended by GOA and several pilot organizations.

“These pilots are the last line of defense against hijackings,” Sen. Bunning said. “They very well may be the only thing that stops the Air Force from having to shoot down a plane full of passengers.”

Both S. 2268 and H.R. 4126 are entitled the “Cockpit Security Technical Corrections and Improvements Act of 2004” (or “Cockpit Security Act” for short). This legislation would require that 90% of all pilot/applicants be trained and certified within six months of passage. This short time frame will put pressure on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to encourage training by private facilities — a measure which has been consistently resisted by the TSA.

The TSA has set up numerous roadblocks that have severely restricted the number of pilots who can carry firearms. Initially, the administration certified fewer than 100 pilots. Many applicants were “flunked” because they expressed reservations about TSA policy, and elaborate and redundant physical and psychological exams were used to deter pilots who had already been certified to fly planes containing hundreds of passengers.

Only one training facility was authorized by the TSA at a remote site in New Mexico, making it needlessly inconvenient for most pilots to participate.

According to an explosive news story by CNSNEWS.COM, when pilots began to complain to the Congress and the media about problems with the program, they were threatened with fines and dismissal from the program.

The TSA also implemented an absurd “lock-box” requirement, which forces a pilot to carry his firearm outside his person until the flight deck door is sealed. Pilots who are “deadheading” must place their lock boxes in the cargo area. This has led to firearms being lost, mishandled or stolen.

One pilot with years of federal law enforcement experience told a reporter that, “Pilots go down [to the cargo hold] to get the gun and the baggage handlers have already been in the belly… and the gun is on its way to baggage claim. The [pilots] then have to get back up into the airplane, go down out of the terminal, down to baggage claim and hopefully find their gun on the carousel.”

The Bunning-Wilson bills will require that pilots carry their firearms when they deboard their planes — repealing the awkward “lock-box” procedure and putting thousands of additional certified law enforcement officers on the streets of America’s major cities.

“Tens of thousands of armed pilots are a real deterrent and defense,” Sen. Bunning stated. “A few thousand are not.”

This would be the third time that Congress has passed bills forcing the TSA to implement an armed pilots program. “[The TSA will] get the message or they’ll lose their money for the program,” Bunning added. “We’ll put it somewhere where it will get the job done.”

The current bills also allow for pilots with military or law enforcement experience and proof of firearms proficiency to be deputized immediately.

Opponents of this legislation hate the fact that average citizens (that is, pilots who may or may not have law enforcement training) are being allowed to carry firearms on planes. This is pro-gun legislation that advances freedom in the right direction.


“Live Fire” radio with Larry Pratt is now broadcast by the Information Radio Network on Saturdays at 12:00 Noon Eastern. “Live Fire” is simulcast on the web at and previous episodes are archived at in RealAudio. Recent episodes have included:

* Dr. Frederick Whitehurst: Blowing the Whistle on the FBI Lab’s Junk Science

* Nat Hentoff, a liberal columnist discussing Patriot Act threats to the 2nd and 4th Amendments

* Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, author of Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America