House To Vote On Arming SOME Pilots

House to Vote on Whether to Arm Some Pilots
— Better bill still awaits action in the Senate

(Tuesday, July 9, 2002) — The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a watered-down version of an armed pilots bill tomorrow. The bill — introduced by Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and John Mica (R-FL) — was tremendously weakened in the Transportation Committee after its introduction.

As originally introduced, the bill (H.R. 4635) would begin putting armed pilots in the air within 90 days. But as amended in the committee, this bill would first institute a “pilot program” where only two percent of pilots could carry guns. The key word is “could,” because John Magaw — the Transportation Security Administration Director who is opposed to arming the pilots — would be put in charge of implementing the program.

There is no deadline for getting the first pilot armed, and after the “test” period ends, Director Magaw can — and probably will — discontinue the program.

In response, several Representatives are considering amendments to increase the percentage of armed pilots from two percent to 100 percent — that is, to allow any pilot who wishes to carry a firearm to be able to do so.

Once this bill clears the House, Senator Bob Smith waits poised to bring his bill, S. 2554, to the Senate floor for its own vote. His bill is clearly superior as it would mandate the arming of any pilot who wishes to protect his passengers and crew.