Among other stories:
FAA Plans to Disarm Flight Crews
By Jeff Johnson
CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief
September 20, 2001
(Editor's note: Adds quotations from pilots)
(CNSNews.com) - A new Federal Aviation Regulation would take away the right
of pilots, co-pilots, and navigators to carry firearms and other weapons for
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Paul Takemoto acknowledged
Thursday that flight crews have been authorized to carry firearms for the
past 20 years.
"That will change on November 14," he said. "The new rule will not include
authorization (to carry firearms) and crew members will no longer be allowed
to carry arms."
Federal Aviation Regulation 108.11 currently allows armed individuals on
aircraft, "if the person having the weapon is authorized to have the weapon
by the (airline) and the Administrator (of the FAA) and has successfully
completed a course of training in the use of firearms acceptable to the
That federal aviation regulation also establishes the conditions under which
law enforcement officers and other government officials may be armed on
board aircraft. Takemoto indicated ther would be no changes to those
Takemoto was not aware of whether or not the FAA had ever approved a
firearms training course for flight crews, or whether such a request had
ever been made. He indicated that the agency was too busy to research the
issue in light of the on-going investigation into the hijacking of four
passenger jets by terrorists armed with plastic knives and box cutters on
In response to those attacks, the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute in
Las Vegas, Nevada, offered weapons training specifically designed for
cockpit crews free to any pilot, co-pilot, or navigator, if their employer
requests the training. Dr. Ignatius Piazza, founder of Front Sight, was
outraged by the FAA's decision.
"The FAA, in changing the regulation, and preventing the airlines from
arming and training their pilots effectively places the blood on their hands
for every (future) terrorist act involving the take-over of a cockpit of an
airplane," he said.
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, agreed.
"This is simply going to insure, and reassure the terrorists, that they will
be the only ones armed. They will break the law, because they're criminals,
and they'll be able to repeat exactly what was done," Pratt said.
"These people haven't learned a thing," he continued, "and they need to be
fired, because anybody who thinks self defense is a bad idea doesn't belong
in public service."
The FAA's new regulation is also directly at odds with legislation
introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) last Friday.
House Resolution (HR) 2896 would provide that, "no department or agency of
the Federal Government shall prohibit any pilot, copilot, or navigator of an
aircraft, or any law enforcement personnel specifically detailed for the
protection of that aircraft, from carrying a firearm."
Takemoto said the FAA does not comment on pending legislation.
Paul believes pilots should be able to defend themselves and their
"My approach to this is to allow an airline to take care of their property
just like we allow our chemical plants and our refineries to protect their
property," he said.
Paul compared the fences and armed guards around such plants to airliners
with fortified cockpit doors and an armed crew flight crew
Paul expressed astonishment that the terrorists were able to commandeer four
airliners without firearms.
"They did all that without a gun," he said. "If the pilots had had guns,
they could have prevented this."
In a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal (Friday, Sept. 21), an
American Airlines captain agreed that "hardened cockpit doors and armed
pilots could have prevented all four of those hijackings."
Captain Brad Rohdenburg suggested making some of the pilots sky marshals.
"How much more cost-effective could a security program be?" he asked.
"At the very least, let us carry pocket knives again. As Benjamin Franklin
said, 'If you make yourselves sheep, the wolves will eat you.'"
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