December 11, 2008
Issues - Transportation


Part of the federal responsibility of Congress is to make roads, rails, and the skies across America as safe as possible.

One of my efforts in the previous Congress was the Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act. The Act allows commercial airline pilots, on a voluntary basis, to become qualified, trained, and commissioned as federal law enforcement officers and to carry firearms for cockpit defense.

As I've told my colleagues, this isn't about setting up an airborne OK Corral. This is about deterrence. For pilots, this sets up a new last line of defense. For the public, this offers one more assurance. For would-be skyjackers, this says expect the unexpected.

Safety is our first concern. Pilots must undergo Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved training before being deputized. The TSA also sets the protocols for carrying guns (i.e. type of gun, type of ammunition, where the gun is stored, pilot interaction with the air marshals, ensuring the pilot does not take the gun into the passenger cabin).

Arming trained and qualified pilots on a voluntary basis to defend the cockpits of their aircraft is a necessary step to ensure the safety and security of the flying public. This is one more layer of safety and one more layer of security to see that flights arrive at their intended destinations.

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