CCRKBA BACKS PILOTS, URGES CONGRESS TO PASS LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING GUNS IN COCKPITS

Tuesday, May 21st, 2002

BELLEVUE, WA – Holding firm to a recommendation it made within hours of the Sept. 11 terrorist atrocities in New York and Washington, DC, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) today supported a call by airline pilots on Congress to pass legislation allowing them to carry guns in the cockpit.

CCRKBA took the lead in calling for armed pilots to prevent further outrages like those that occurred Sept. 11, when defenseless pilots, flight crews and passengers were murdered by terrorists who took control of four airplanes with nothing more than box cutters.

John Magaw, undersecretary for transportation security, told a Congressional committee that he would rule against pilots being allowed to fly armed. Almost immediately, Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Intl., called on Congress to pass legislation creating a government program to train volunteer pilots, who would then fly armed and provide a last measure of security for their aircraft. That legislation is HR 4635, known as the Young-Mica bill.

“Capt. Woerth has the right idea, and certainly the more relevant perspective on guns in the cockpit than some career federal bureaucrat,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “We join him in calling on Congress to pass that legislation.”

Gottlieb also concurred with Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) in urging Magaw to reconsider his decision. Burns is also co-sponsoring legislation to arm pilots.

“Mr. Magaw suggested that armed air marshals would ‘lay down their lives’ to protect the passengers and flight crews on commercial flights,” Gottlieb said. “That’s assuming there is an air marshal aboard in the event of a terrorist takeover. Magaw knows that there are only enough marshals for a fraction of commercial flights, yet he would deny pilots a last line of defense. That is incredibly short-sighted, if not downright cavalier.”

Noting that the Air Travelers Association has also criticized Magaw’s decision, Gottlieb stated, “One the one hand, you have a few officials including Mr. Magaw, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge opposing guns in the cockpit. On the other hand, you have 62,000 airline pilots and millions of airline passengers supporting the idea. Congress should do the math and take the appropriate action.”