Airline security and the debate over arming pilots
By prohibiting pilots from carrying firearms to defend themselves, their airplanes
and their passengers, the federal government is making its position clear:
The government does not want to admit that there is any case in which it is
beneficial for a private citizen — no matter how responsible, stable
or respectable — to have a firearm available for self-defense.
Police officers seem to have some special Jedi-like mastery over handguns
that private citizens can never
hope to obtain.*
Lies, Lies, Lies: A case study in journalistic
malpractice. When I open my homepage, the first trending story on the top right is: "Judge allowed Kyle
Rittenhouse to draw jurors from a raffle box to determine the 12 who will decide the verdict of his homicide trial." [...] At
this point, if I've been scanning Twitter casually for the news, I become alarmed. The defendant selected his
jurors? The judge allowed him to do this? It takes me a lot of scrolling to get to that phrase "at
random," and then it seems only to apply to the six jurors who will serve as alternates. [...] There is no story here.
It's nothing, a total irrelevancy, a meaningless controversy confected out of thin air. Confected by whom? By our
press, in collusion with the unaccountable tech corporations that now run our public square. It's not like they met in
some back room to plot it all out. They don't have to: they are in total agreement about how this case needs to go.
tell CNN's Chris Cillizza that words actually matter in the gun control debate. The debate over gun control
rages after mass shootings, and it is almost painful to watch how poorly reporters try and stumble around an issue they're
apparently not familiar with reporting. When reporters use terms such as "automatic rounds" and "semi-automatic machine
guns," the public is less informed on public policy. There is no such thing as an "automatic round" or "semi-automatic
machine guns," but the terms sound intimidating and mislead the public into thinking they exist. Chris Cillizza wrote
an article at CNN that is loaded with errors and shouldn't have made it past an editor with any knowledge of firearms and
Armed Citizens Are The Very First Responders. Media giants like the New York Times are going to unprecedented
lengths to politicize the San Bernardino massacre. The Second Amendment they hate is actually the first defense against
terrorism. One of the first adaptations that this country made to the new post-9/11 world was a sky marshal on every
flight. Fourteen years later, there isn't a soul in this nation who'd want to take a passenger jet anywhere without that unknown
gun-toting protector aboard. Who knows how many terrorist plots those many hundreds of brave law enforcers have deterred?
Pilot Confirms White House Trying to Make it Easier to Hijack Planes. It's no secret that President
Obama hates guns. We all know that. But what would you say if I told you that our fearless leader is
trying to remove the most effective method of preventing terrorism since the 9/11 attacks? Captain Tracy W.
Price, a 25-year veteran with a major U.S. airline and the president of the Airline Security Consultant Group,
recently spoke with the Washington Times about Obama's constant attempts to destroy the Federal Flight Deck
Time to Arm Airline
Passengers? As opposed to the increasingly absurd steps being taken to identify and keep weapons
off commercial aircraft, it would be advisable and practical to identify and empower volunteer counter-terrorists
among the passengers, initially at least on domestic flights or on international flights by domestic carriers.
This could even extend to arming those passengers on the aircraft.
Armed Pilots and Dead Terrorists.
The FFDO (Federal Flight Deck Officer) program was implemented by the Bush Administration working with law
enforcement, airline management and pilot unions. Pilots with guns were a way to augment the Federal
Air Marshall Service which was already in place and quickly expanded. Recent rumors indicate that the
Obama administration will attempt to de-fund the FFDO program. I think it would be a huge loss to
security and a big mistake.
secretly ends program that let pilots carry guns. After the September 11 attacks, commercial
airline pilots were allowed to carry guns if they completed a federal-safety program. No longer would
unarmed pilots be defenseless as remorseless hijackers seized control of aircraft and rammed them into
buildings. Now President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety
on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.
Obama Blasted for Diverting
Money From Armed Pilots Program. A Second Amendment group is blasting the Obama administration
for quietly seeking to end the program that allows pilots — after special training — to
carry guns in the cockpit. The move will make air travel more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, something
that should outrage travelers, said the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) said.
On the other hand... Gun
program for pilots set for expansion, officials insist. The Obama administration has no plans to
end a program that trains commercial airline pilots to carry guns and thwart terrorist attacks, and in fact is
seeking to expand resources for oversight and training, government officials and pilots organizations say.
"We're looking for new resources and more money to bring in for next year. The benefits of the program are
obvious. The pilots are an intrinsic part of our whole aviation-security strategy and one of our layers of
security," said Robert Bray, director of the Federal Air Marshal Service, which oversees the program.
This controversy had disappeared from the media radar for a couple of years, when this incident
brought it back to life:
Note: An earlier report from the same source said,
told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Acree was not only drunk, but armed. Acree was
found carrying a government-issued .40 caliber
But that report has now gone down the media memory hole. Only Google's cache still
has it. There was also this one:
"Since he's a federal flight deck officer,
he's issued a government-issued handgun. He allegedly had that on him at the time of his
When I heard this story, I thought it was odd that I hadn't heard anything recently about pilots being armed,
especially since there was so much debate about this a few years ago. Now I wonder if the charges were dropped in order to
keep this issue quiet.
Midwest Pilot Cleared Of Drinking On The Job.
A Midwest airlines pilot was arrested for drinking just before his flight, but was he really drunk, or did police
jump the gun? Airport police in Minneapolis claimed that the pilot failed a sobriety test. His
blood alcohol was .016. That's enough to register on a breath test, but it's so low, he would still
be allowed to fly under federal law.
Updated 3/27/2008: Pilot's Gun Goes off on U.S. Airways Flight.
Officials say the unnamed pilot was allowed to carry the weapon as part of the Transportation Security Administration's
Federal Flight Deck Officer program. It was created after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. The program
allows eligible crew members — including pilots, navigators and flight engineers — to use a
firearm to defend against any act of air piracy or criminal violence.
Pilot's gun fires during US
flight; no one injured. The Transportation Security Administration's Federal Flight Deck Officer program
allows eligible crew members — including pilots, navigators and flight engineers — to use a
firearm to defend against any act of air piracy or criminal violence. Alter said the TSA is investigating how the
gun discharged, with the Air Marshal's Service's assistance. The TSA referred questions to the Air Marshal's Service.
Here is the scoop on the program, straight from the TSA:
Federal Flight Deck Officers:
Under this program, eligible flight crewmembers are authorized by the Transportation Security Administration
Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service to use firearms to defend against an act of criminal
violence or air piracy attempting to gain control of an aircraft. A flight crew member may be a pilot,
flight engineer or navigator assigned to the flight.
More than 10% of pilots
allowed to fly armed. The TSA, which has declined to disclose the number of armed pilots,
revealed in a recent budget document that 10.8% of airline crewmembers were authorized to carry guns. The
Federal Air Marshal Service, a TSA agency that runs the armed-pilots program, reports that 85,000 to 90,000
pilots and crewmembers flying domestic passenger and cargo planes are eligible to carry a gun.
Pilots Say TSA Program is "Flawed". There are 85,000-90,000 pilots and crew members eligible to carry a gun
in the cockpit of a domestic aircraft as part of the Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDO) Program run by the TSA.
Approximately 10% of these folks currently fly armed.
The title of this article says it all. Guns
in Cockpits — It's Not About Airline Safety, It's About Gun Control: Are
you enjoying the debate in Washington over whether pilots should be
allowed to have guns in airline cockpits? If you're paying attention, you
need to be aware of one thing. The people who oppose armed pilots aren't
focusing on airline safety — they're merely focusing on their anti-gun,
anti-Second Amendment agenda.
Guns in the
cockpit: Arming pilots is not a new idea. In fact, airline pilots flew armed in large
numbers from the dawn of commercial aviation to 1987 with no record of incident. When the federal
government disarmed pilots in 1987, many pilots predicted cockpit takeover attempts — including
the late Captain Victor Saracini, who, in horrible irony, was the captain of United flight 175 on
September 11, 2001 when his Boeing 767 was hijacked and crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade
Center. It was the disarming of pilots in 1987 that inevitably led to the September 11 cockpit
Invitation to Terror: This Plane Is a Gun-Free
Zone. Imagine that you are a terrorist selecting one of two airlines as your next
victim. The first airline boasts in its ads, "Our Planes Are Gun-Free Zones." The second
says that "One or More Employees Will Be Armed on Every Flight." Not much question
which one you'd fly.
When will our pilots be armed? Despite
all the concern about hypothetical risks, arming pilots is not some new experiment. About
70 percent of the pilots at major American airlines have military backgrounds, and military
pilots flying outside the U.S. are required to carry handguns with them whenever they flew military
planes. Until the early 1960s, American commercial passenger pilots on any flight carrying
U.S. mail were required to carry handguns. The requirement started at the beginning of
commercial aviation to insure that pilots could defend the mail if their plane were to ever
crash. In contrast to the current program, there were no training or screening
requirements. Indeed, pilots were still allowed to carry guns until as recently as 1987.
Guns. An angry, frustrated, and often frightened American public needs something
to believe in when it comes to aviation security, and to date our government has failed to
Marshals Are Good, But Armed Pilots Are
Better. The U.S. experience can provide Europeans with some valuable
lessons on the limitations of armed marshals. To effectively cover most flights
today, the marshals program in the U.S. would cost $20 billion per year. Only
a small fraction of flights to Europe have marshals and then only one day a week. A
cost effective additional layer of security is to let pilots carry guns.
air safety priorities. While one could perhaps envisage a scenario
in which shooting down a commercial passenger aircraft would be the lesser of two
evils, would not shooting a single terrorist be clearly preferable? Would it
not be better to arm airline pilots rather than scrambling F-16s to shoot down the
entire aircraft? Yet, even though Congress has mandated the arming of airline
pilots, the administration continues to drag its feet in carrying out this vital
and reasonable measure to protect air passengers and crews.
Pilots' group wants crews to
be armed. The Airline Pilots' Security Alliance says it is advocating "a
controlled, well thought out, rational and safe program for arming carefully screened and
trained airline pilots with firearms," according to the group's website.
Guns for Pilots; They're Too Busy, or Something: A story
by Jim Burns of CNSNews on May 21 said, "The federal government Tuesday
said pilots will not be allowed to have guns in the cockpit on commercial airline
flights." The main reason given seems to be that the pilots are too busy up there,
intently studying dials and levers and all, such that to shoot at anybody who might
want to steal their airplane would be a dangerous diversion.
of Pilots Won't Fly Armed, Blame TSA. The federal agency
charged with providing security for U.S. airlines, and the airlines
themselves are intentionally sabotaging the congressionally-mandated
program to train and certify pilots who volunteer to carry guns in the
cockpit, according to supporters of the program who claim tens of
thousands of pilots have opted out as a result.
to arm our pilots: Nearly a year has passed since the worst act of
terrorism in America's history. The World Trade Center site is clear, the sky above
is empty. And fear of another deadly attack remains. A so-called miscommunication
between pilot and air traffic controllers recently led the government to
scramble two F-16s to escort a jet to Baltimore-Washington airport. America
must prevent terrorists ever again from turning a civilian aircraft into a
de facto cruise missile. Yet airline security remains a leaky sieve.
Pilots Mean Nationalized Airlines: The reason the government won't
allow pilots to be armed is that the airlines absolutely don't want it. And why are
they scared silly about the thought of pilots with guns? Because in our litigious
society they couldn't possibly handle the liability. Someone would sue the airlines
the first day the pilots carried guns.
Arming Pilots Is the Best Way to
Get Air Security: While the exact number of federal air marshals
has not been made public, a report in the Washington Post claimed that there were
fewer than 1,000 across the nation, and only a fraction of those were available on
any given day.
group decries missile deployment: The Airline Pilots'
Security Alliance and other groups, including some pilots' unions,
have said that arming pilots against potential terrorist hijackers
is a quicker, cheaper and more efficient way to ensure air safety.
and Guns: In a stunning reversal, California's liberal Senator
Barbara Boxer has come out in favor of allowing airline pilots to carry guns
if they wish, while the Bush administration opposes it. Although Sen. Boxer is
a staunch supporter of gun control, on this particular issue she clearly understands
that it is better to have an armed pilot than to have to order a military plane to
shoot down one of our own commercial airliners.
Flying Blind on Armed Pilots Issue: President George W. Bush must
be preoccupied with overseas strategy, because he has allowed his
administration to take a politically disastrous position against the
arming of airline pilots. Polls show strong support from both
pilots and the public for allowing guns in the cockpit.
armed-pilot plan called a "bad joke": A commercial pilots'
group that strongly supports allowing flight crews to carry firearms has
criticized a White House plan to arm only a small number of fliers
and instead wants lawmakers to pass legislation authorizing
guns in cockpits.
Passes Armed Pilots Bill: The House of Representatives has passed
legislation to allow commercial airline pilots to carry guns in the cockpit, provided
they complete mandated training and federal background checks.
Choosing "Gun Control Over Terrorist Control": The
Libertarian Party says President George W. Bush, not the anti-gun
liberals in his administration, is directly responsible for why America's
commercial airline pilots remain defenseless against terrorists.
Mohamen Atta object to armed pilots? It's going to
be difficult for the pilot to fly the plane after the cockpit has
been stormed by Arabs. Whatever could go wrong at that point — a
wounded passenger, a hole in the side of the plane, terrorists
wresting control of the gun — is better than the alternative.
Arming Airline Pilots a Must: Take
Action Now! Most pilots begin their careers as military pilots, so they are already trained in
the safe and responsible use of firearms. Not granting them the authority to completely defend the
integrity of the cockpit, we feel, is nothing short of negligence.
Beg Bush to Allow Guns: America's airline pilots are imploring
President Bush to let them carry firearms to protect themselves and passengers
from terrorists. Though most Americans are pro-choice on this issue, the
White House is not.
in Responsible Hands: The Best Defense Against Terrorism in the Air: In
the aftermath of the horrific terrorist skyjackings in New York and
Washington, D.C., in which misguided thugs sought martyrdom by turning
commercial airliners into guided missiles, many proposals have been put
forward to ensure that such terrible events never occur again. Unfortunately,
arming pilots, the policy most likely to effectively deter or prevent future
terrorists skyjackings (suicidal or not), is being treated with disdain by
gun control groups. Evidently, they hate and fear guns more than they care
about passenger safety.
Accused of Trading "Safety for Victory": An airline
pilots' group says it was pressure from the airlines' political lobbying
group - not fear of potential mishaps - that led the government
to forbid commercial airline pilots from carrying guns. The Airline
Pilots' Security Alliance (APSA) accused the Air Transport Association
(ATA) of influencing the government's decision.
Tries to Manipulate Public Opinion on Arming Pilots: Once again
the New York Times is using its news pages to manipulate public
opinion — this time using a story about arming pilots in a
blatantly obvious attempt to turn Americans against letting pilots
have the right to carry guns against hijackers.
pilots banned two months before 9-11: A 40-year-old
FAA rule that allowed commercial airline pilots
to be armed was inexplicably rescinded two months before the
September 11 terrorist attacks, leading aviation security
experts to lay at least some of the blame for the tragedy at
the feet of airlines, none of which took advantage of the
privilege while it was in effect.
Magaw: With a stroke of the pen, one un-elected and
unaccountable federal bureaucrat — whose name may not be familiar
to you — recently ruled that airline pilots may not keep firearms
in their cockpits. His name is John Magaw, or, as I call
him, "No-Draw Magaw."
addresses liability of armed pilots: A federal
bill that would allow commercial airline pilots to be
armed contains a provision that absolves both airlines and pilots
from legal liability should innocent parties be harmed during
attempts to thwart a hijacking.
Why Won't FAA Let Pilots Protect The
Passengers? Incredibly, just as Congress is passing laws designed to make air travel safer, the
Federal Aviation Agency is passing regulations that will make it more dangerous. On Nov. 14, a
change to Section 108 of the FAA regulations will go into effect that strips pilots of their ability to
defend themselves and their passengers through the prudent use of firearms.
Hero in the cockpit:
In light of the recent terrorist attacks and the ensuing debates over whether pilots should be armed, this 1954
incident illustrates a forgotten time when pilots not only routinely carried pistols, but were required to
September 20, 2001: FAA
Plans to Disarm Flight Crews: A new Federal Aviation
Regulation would take away the right of pilots, co-pilots, and
navigators to carry firearms and other weapons for self-defense.