8/25/03 GOA Critical Of Delay In Arming Pilots

GOA Criticizes The Administration’s Delay In Arming Pilots

For Immediate Release
August 25, 2003
Contact: Ellie McDaniel

(Springfield, VA) — Gun Owners of America congratulates the several pilot organizations that will be holding press conferences at various airports around the country on Tuesday, August 26 to “light a fire” under the Bush administration. Pilots around the nation will be urging the Bush administration tomorrow to accelerate the rate at which it is certifying pilots to carry firearms.

“Incredibly, the Bush administration seems to have taken a page out of the Gore playbook on this issue,” said GOA Communications Director Erich Pratt. “At every point in the fight to arm pilots, Bush officials have dragged their feet, continually working against common-sense safety.

“It’s been almost two years since 9-11, and yet our nation has fewer than 150 pilots who can defend their crews and passengers from terrorists,” Pratt said. “If al-Qaeda makes good on its threat to hijack another plane, our only defense will be to send an F-16 fighter jet into the sky to blow it up.

“It’s outrageous that we are relying on this option as our main defense against terrorist hijackers,” Pratt said.

The pilot groups have been particularly critical of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which they believe is using whatever means necessary to slow down the program and prevent pilots from being armed as mandated by law.

The Allied Pilots Association says that the TSA has made the program so onerous for pilots with ludicrous levels of background and psychological testing that it is obvious they are trying to intentionally discourage participation. The administration had even fought the legislation to arm pilots when it was being discussed in the Congress.

Pilots will be holding press conferences at 11 am at the following airports: Miami International Airport; Reagan National Airport; Los Angeles International Airport; O’Hare International Airport; Logan International Airport; and, Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport.

A coalition of three pilots’ organizations notes that with only one facility conducting training at an average of 50 pilots per week, a maximum of 2,600 pilots will be trained in an entire year. The Armed Pilots’ Security Alliance estimates 40,000 of the nation’s 120,000 pilots would seek admission into the armed pilots program. At the current rate, it would take 15 years to train these pilots.

— GOA —

Erich Pratt is Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America, a national gun lobby with over 300,000 members located at 8001 Forbes Place, Springfield, VA 22151.

Either Erich Pratt or another GOA spokesman is available for press interviews.