Vote Expected On Smith Amendment

Vote on Smith Amendment Expected Tomorrow

(Tuesday, October 9, 2001) — As reported in GOA’s Friday alert, Senators will soon have to choose between arming pilots with toy guns (stun guns, tasers, etc.) or arming them with real guns. That vote could occur as early as tomorrow as the Senate will be debating the Aviation Security Act (S. 1447).

Please contact your Senators and ask them to support Bob Smith’s “Passenger Safety” amendment to arm pilots and protect the lives of passengers and crewmembers. Also, please urge legislators to oppose the “toy gun” amendment that Senator John McCain plans to offer. That amendment would not let pilots carry arms, but would instead leave them virtually defenseless against armed hijackers.

Feel free to 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 agree 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 be sorry.

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.


NOTE REGARDING TERROR LEGISLATION: The House and Senate will soon be taking up terror legislation — supposedly as a response to the September 11 attacks. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of the current proposals are unconstitutional, will endanger the liberties of all Americans, and will do nothing to stop future terrorist attacks.

On Capitol Hill, Gun Owners of America has been successful in persuading legislators to remove many of the harmful provisions already. But there are still provisions that should greatly concern all Americans — provisions which would not affect gun owners per se, but which are harmful nevertheless. To read the letter GOA has provided for Congressional offices, please go to on the GOA website.

ANSWERS TO OBJECTIONS: 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 and feel free to use the provided material to answer your legislators.