Anti-gun Sen. McCain: Old Tricks, New Amendment

Anti-gun Senator John McCain is up to his Old Tricks
— Calls needed to stop McCain’s “Dead Pilots” amendment

ACTION: Please contact your senators and demand that they oppose the anti-gun amendment that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will offer to the Aviation Security Act as early as Tuesday. Ask them instead to support Bob Smith’s “Passenger Safety” amendment that will arm pilots, thus protecting the lives of airline passengers and crewmembers.

(Friday, October 5, 2001) — Anti-gun zealot Senator John McCain is, once again, preparing to offer an amendment to disarm Americans.

This particular “Dead Pilots” amendment, proposed for the Aviation Security Act, would prohibit guns for airline pilots and instead arm them with “stun guns.”

Thus, if a ground crew in a U.S. or foreign airport smuggled a gun aboard an aircraft and planted it under a seat, THE HIJACKER WOULD HAVE A REAL GUN. BUT THE PILOTS WOULD ONLY HAVE A TOY GUN BY COMPARISON.

This same result would occur if a terrorist smuggled a firearm through a metal detector, as Charles Hildreth, 63, unwittingly did at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport on September 25, 2001.


Let’s look at the types of stun guns:

* THE STUN GUN THAT WORKS ONLY WHILE THE PILOT’S THROAT IS BEING CUT: First, there is the hand-held stun gun which works only when the pilot makes physical contact with the attacker. On its web site, D&D Security Products, which sells this stun gun, states: “They should not be used to defend yourself against an attacker with a firearm or knife.” IN OTHER WORDS, STUN GUNS ARE DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR UNARMED ATTACKERS. THEY WOULD BE USELESS AGAINST ARMED TERRORISTS.

* THE STUN GUN THAT WORKS ONLY IF PEOPLE FLY NAKED: Second, there is the type of stun gun (a taser) that “launches remote probes up to 15 feet.” This type of stun gun can be thwarted by heavy clothing. And, if the pilot misses on the first shot at a distance of 15 feet, the pilot is dead.

Either way, McCain’s “stun gun” approach would do very little to enhance pilot or passenger safety against a terrorist. Even worse, the McCain amendment would leave pilots defenseless by supplanting the Smith amendment, which will take real strides towards stopping future skyjackings.

So please urge your Senators to oppose the anti-gun McCain amendment, and be sure to reinforce your support for the Smith “Passenger Safety” amendment.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Please use the pre-written text below to help direct your comments to the U.S. Senate. You can call your Senators at 202-224-3121. To identify your Senators, as well as to send a message via e-mail, plug in your zipcode under Elected Officials at in the GOA Legislative Action Center.

—– Pre-written message —–

Dear Senator: When the Aviation Security Act comes to the floor for a vote, there will be competing ideas as to what will deter terrorists from hijacking aircraft. I want to make it unmistakably clear that stun guns and tasers are NOT the way to deter hijackers.

One seller who advertises these items on the web says that stun guns “should not be used to defend yourself against an attacker with a firearm or knife.” Well, no kidding. Stun guns require the attacker to be right on top of you before you can use them. And tasers, which launch a remote probe up to 15 feet, can be thwarted by heavy clothing. Moreover, if the pilot misses on the first shot at a distance of 15 feet, the pilot is dead.

Please do not support any such “Dead Pilots” amendment — whether it is sponsored by Senator John McCain or anyone else — as a defense against terrorists. If stun guns and tasers were so effective, then why don’t cops around the country trade in their guns for these items?

There are plenty of aviation engineers who have made the point that bullet holes will not cause a massive depressurization in a plane. If depressurization was truly a concern, then why are we even considering putting air marshals on planes? Their bullets will be no different from the ones being used by the pilots. But more to the point, there is no way we can get an air marshal on all 35,000 daily flights.

So the only way to deter these terrorists is to make sure that our last line of defense — the pilots — can protect the plane. Reinforcing the cockpit doors is also a good idea, but it’s not a panacea. Are we to assume that on a long trip the door will NEVER be opened? That pilots will NEVER take a bathroom break? That there is no one among the flight crew who will ever have the keys or security codes to open the door?

Reinforcing the cockpit doors can help. But the only way to stop terrorism on board aircraft is to let these villains know in advance that, if they ever try to invade the cockpit, they’ll get a bullet in the skull.

Please support the Bob Smith amendment that will allow pilots to be armed, and thus, will enable them to protect the lives of their crewmembers and passengers.

Thank you.



Many of your Representatives and Senators are giving you feedback in opposition to arming pilots. Basically, their opposition falls into one of five categories:

  1. Bullet holes can lead to a massive depressurization of the plane
  2. Pilots should fly planes, not fight terrorists
  3. Making cockpits impenetrable is all that is needed
  4. Only sky marshals should have guns on planes
  5. Innocent bystanders might get shot

Gun Owners of America has prepared a fact sheet to answer these objections. Please go to on the GOA web page and feel free to use the provided material to answer your legislators.



ALPA is not using an alerts list to communicate with its members on this issue. So, please pass this GOA alert to as many pilots as you can. Pilots need to call their Senators AS PILOTS and answer all the objections that might be brought up.

Petitions Available:

If you are a pilot, or have constant contact with pilots, please go to to download and circulate a petition designed to convince Congress that arming pilots is a good, common-sense first step towards ensuring airline safety. Feel free to circulate the petition among communications networks frequented by pilots.

And if you are not a pilot, there are other petitions you can sign to show your support. Some of these are:

  1. Safer Skies. The non-profit Rights Watch International has an open letter to Congress at regarding armed pilots that will also be placed in major newspapers.
  2. The Federal Observer. At is a citizen’s petition urging the arming of pilots.
  3. 3. KABA. is urging enforcement of the Second Amendment, with a petition at directed at U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.