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Posted: 7/2/2003 2:16:04 PM EDT
[b]What's wrong with trained pilots having guns?[/b] By Dave Kopel & David Petteys In the new Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the young wizarding students are frustrated by a "Defense Against the Dark Arts" teacher who resolutely refuses to teach the students how to protect themselves. The teacher, Deloris Umbridge, is a government bureaucrat, and she considers it better that innocents be murdered by the Death Eaters than for people outside the government to be able to fight back. Unfortunately, our real-world Transportation Security Administration might as well be run by Deloris Umbridge. By sabotaging the armed-pilots program, the Bush TSA is resolutely continuing to undermine the will of the American people and the express determination of the United States Congress. Last month, the TSA fired Willie Ellison, who had been the head of the TSA firearms training academy. Ellison was strongly praised by the first class of 44 pilots which recently graduated from the program. According USA Today (June 6), Ellison was fired for "unacceptable performance and conduct." What was Ellison's "unacceptable" conduct? He held a dinner for the first class of graduates, gave them baseball caps with the program logo, and asked for course evaluations. Does firing a teacher for conduct like this really sound like the TSA is interested in high-quality teaching? Or is the TSA bureaucracy, like Deloris Umbridge, so opposed to defensive training that trivial bureaucratic pretexts are used to get rid of effective teachers? The TSA's hostility to armed pilots is not confined to the firing of Ellison, for which House Aviation Subcommittee Chair John Mica (R., Fla.) has promised an investigation. No sooner had the first class of armed pilots graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, than the TSA announced the program would be relocated to Artesia, New Mexico. Experienced instructors in Georgia have the option of quitting their jobs, or moving their families to a remote town which is 186 miles by car from Lubbock, Texas, the nearest major city. Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, who represents a very left-wing district including Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, rarely can be found on the same side of an issue as John Mica. DeFazio is a fervent gun control advocate, who introduced nine gun control bills within three days after a school shooting in his district. Yet DeFazio, who is the ranking Democrat on the Aviation Subcommittee, denounced the closing of the Georgia training program as "just another attempt to disrupt the program at the behest of the airlines who have always opposed arming pilots" (USA Today, June 6). Last fall, Congress rejected administration proposals for a small "pilot" program for airline defense. Instead, Congress enacted broad legislation for widespread arming of pilots. But the TSA's new Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDO) program appears designed to discourage pilots from being able to protect their plane and passengers. The TSA demands exhaustive background investigations for any pilots who wants to be armed: comprehensive disclosure of every address, interviews with past and present neighbors, friends, coworkers, and more. Naturally, such processing is extremely expensive. The high cost of such investigations enables TSA to severely limit the number armed pilots, and to add long delays in processing. The next obstacle is the screening. The TSA subjects each victim (Oh, sorry! FFDO candidate) to intrusive, probing and far-reaching psychological evaluations. Now if we trust an individual with the good judgment to fly a $100 million aircraft with the lives of 400 individuals in his hands, why is it suddenly necessary to give him the psychological fifth degree because he would have a handgun? Every pilot pursues his career at the pleasure of the federal government. And if a bureaucracy doesn't like a pilot's answers or behavior in one of these intrusive evaluations, the bureaucrats might decide that not only is the pilot not fit to carry a firearm, but he might also not be allowed to hold an Air Transport Pilot's license as well. The risk that a government psychologist might destroy a pilot's ability to earn a living because he thinks the pilot has unresolved conflict with her cousin will discourage many conscientious and able pilots from applying. Although pilots would technically be designated as federal law enforcement officers, they would not be authorized carry their guns in ordinary holsters as every other law enforcement officer does, but only in special locked boxes to be kept in the cockpit during flight. Accordingly, the pilots would not be faced with the myriad of situations in which a federal law enforcement officer with emotional problems might an inappropriate decision about defensive gun use-such as when an undercover officer is challenged to a fight in a seedy bar. Thus, the psychological screening used on FBI agents is unnecessary for airline pilots, and is silly in light of the fact that every pilot already controls a weapon thousands of times more powerful than a handgun. The next obstacle is the training. Even though there are over 66,000 members of the Airline Pilots Association, the TSA plans to train the FFDO's 48 pilots at a time at a budgeted cost of $12,000 a person. The TSA complains that it doesn't have enough money for FFDO, and announced that once the first class of 48 pilots were trained, there would not be enough money to continue the program. Congress responded with an appropriations bill ordering TSA to spend eight million dollars of existing TSA funds on armed pilot training. Having trained one class in April, the TSA will start another class in July. Plainly this is a pace for the proposed small program which Congress rejected, rather than the large program which Congress enacted. TSA is willfully blind to an option which could produce thousands of well-trained pilots within a few weeks: private firearms academies. These academies offer excellent, intensive training in defensive handgun for a cost of about two thousand dollars or less. Plenty of these classes are six days long, like the federal class. Some private academies, such as Front Sight Training Academy in Nevada, have patriotically offered to train pilots for free. For academies without pilot scholarships, pilots could be given the option of paying for the course themselves, rather than waiting for TSA to get around to providing a free federal course, at some indefinite date in the future. Gary Marbut, head of the Montana State Shooting Association, has followed TSA official procedures to submit an offer to train 1,200 pilots for a cost of $800 each. The detailed application was strongly supported by Montana senator Conrad Burns. Marbut's application was submitted last November, on the day the President signed the Homeland Security Act. Over half a year later, nobody at the TSA will even explain what happened to Marbut's proposal, Marbut says. It should be remembered that an armed pilot resisting a hijacking faces a much simpler scenario than a typical defensive shooting by an FBI agent, a police officer, or a citizen with a concealed handgun permit. These latter three must be prepared for surprise attacks, and for the possibility of using firearms in any of the hundreds of places where a person might be during the course of a day. Law-enforcement officers must confront the additional difficulty of being forced to intervene in situations (such as domestic disturbance) in which it may not be immediately clear who is the aggressor and who is the victim.
Link Posted: 7/2/2003 2:16:59 PM EDT
In contrast, the armed pilots would only use firearms in a place they know extremely well: their own cockpit. Because cockpit doors are now secure and barricaded, and because of enhanced communication abilities between the cabin stewardesses (or stewards) and the cockpit, pilots would likely have warning before a hijacker breached the cockpit door. The attacker would be a very few feet away-as opposed to attackers who might be many yards away in ordinary ground-based defensive gun use. Unlike in ground-based defensive gun use, the pilot would not have to worry about whether use of deadly force should be delayed in the hopes that lesser force or a warning might suffice; a hijacking scenario and cockpit invasion would by definition require use of deadly force. In short, there is no good justification for TSA inventing a requirement for a $12,000 federal training course, and using this pretext as a choke point to prevent arming pilots. While obstructing the Congressionally mandate for armed pilots, the TSA is announcing that it is thinking about allowing pilots and cabin stewards to carry stun guns. The administration floated this proposal in 2002, as attempt to defeat the armed pilots program, and Congress voted instead to give pilots real firearms, not stun guns. A stun gun is certainly better than nothing, but it's not nearly as effective as a firearm. For one thing, it can be defeated by thick clothing. The core problem is the bureaucrats really do not want pilots to be armed. "I don't think we want to equip our pilots with firearms," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Asked why, Ridge replied "Where would it end?" In other words, if we arm pilots, then we have to let other potential terror victims arms themselves, and that would be crazy! Actually, since 1989 Ridge's home state of Pennsylvania has allowed any law-abiding adult who wants to carry a concealed handgun for protection obtain a permit to do so. There is a background check requirement, but, unlike in many other states, no training requirement. The law in Pennsylvania is working just fine. So fine, in fact, that when Ridge was governor, he signed legislation eliminating a loophole in the Pennsylvania carry law which had prevented Philadelphia residents from obtaining permits. So if concealed handguns work on the mean streets of Philadelphia, with no training requirement, what's wrong with trained pilots having guns? Unfortunately, the TSA appears to be full of old Secret Service bureaucrats who think like Ridge, and who can't stand of the idea of gun carrying by people who don't work for the government. In dealings with Saudi Arabia, the Bush administration is continuing the failed policies of the past, by placing the short-term interests of American corporations ahead of the long-term need to remove a regime which continues to allow that nation's wealth to finance international terror. The Bush administration is likewise placing the desires of big corporations, the airline companies, ahead of the safety of airline passengers and crews. Apparently the airline executives would rather risk another 9/11 than take the (tiny) chance that an armed pilot might use his gun illegally, and the airline might be sued. While the Bush administration adopted this corporate view, the American people and the Congress have taken just the opposite position. And it is the position of the American people which Congress enacted as the law of the land. Meanwhile, Senators Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) and Jim Bunning (R., Ky.) are working to close another dangerous loophole in our nation's gun laws. Last fall's Arming Pilots Against Terrorism and Cabin Defense Act did not include provisions for arming cargo pilots. Under existing law, the executive branch could allow these pilots to be armed tomorrow, but of course has failed to do so. The Boxer-Bunning S. 516 would close the loophole, and include cargo pilots in the Federal Flight Deck Officers program. In the House, H.R. 1049 by Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) would do the same thing. As Sen. Boxer points out, a hijacked cargo plane can damage a ground target, such as a nuclear power plant, just as severely as a commercial airliner. Current security of cargo planes is very poor. Cockpit doors are not reinforced, and it is easy for unauthorized persons to sneak onto the tarmac and get on a plane. In late 2002, a mentally deranged woman walked into the cockpit of a cargo plane in Fargo, and asked to be flown to California. Sen. Boxer warns, "If someone with diminished capacity can do this, think what terrorists might do." On June 12, the full U.S. Senate voted to add the Bunning-Boxer amendment to the reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration. The cargo companies, such as FedEx, do not want cargo pilots to be allowed to carry firearms, or even allowed to carry stun guns. Clearly it will take much more work by Congress and the public to overcome the Bush/bureaucrat/big-business alliance against sensible, bipartisan policies for homeland security. In the meantime, American planes, except for the tiny fraction carrying federal air marshals, remain undefended against al Qaeda's Death Eaters. [url]http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel070203.asp[/url]
Link Posted: 7/2/2003 7:20:38 PM EDT
Well I see some misunderstandings in this article already. First the comment about the program being moved to Artesia NM. There is a whole FLETC facility there. Glynco isn't the only one in the country. Second, Artesia is set up for that training. It is mainly ranges and they recently expanded all the ranges there to accommidate the Border Patrol and several other programs that are taught there. There is also a giant aircraft graveyard in Roswell, about 30 miles to the north of Artesia. Perchance they are using the old mothballed planes for training purposes (makes sense to me) Second, the FFDO idea is kinda silly when you have Air Marshals on board. The armed pilot thing is their way (the pilots) of saying we don't want you (Marshal's ) on our airplanes. By the way, the pilots and airline industry are very political and have some major lobbyist in Washington, thats how they got the armed FFDO thing to begin with. Also if you ever meet some of those pilots that want to be armed, you will soon learn that they miss the days of flying the F14 or F16 and sometimes are still looking for the arrester hook on the flight deck. They are very gung ho and have that idea that they missed something in Top-Gun, and are the guys that ended up "flying the loads of rubber dog sh*# out of Hong Kong" route. Leave the police work to the Marshals, they are the cops. I feel better knowing that the pilots are locked away inside the cockpit and the door is sealed. They don't need to be playing Starskey and Hutch while trying to fly the airplane too.
Link Posted: 7/2/2003 7:29:25 PM EDT
Well if you're going to arm pilots, do it right at least! [img]http://mysite.directlink.net/eruddle/pics/airsafety.jpg[/img]
Link Posted: 7/2/2003 10:01:56 PM EDT
Originally Posted By smokycity: Well I see some misunderstandings in this article already. First the comment about the program being moved to Artesia NM. There is a whole FLETC facility there. Glynco isn't the only one in the country. Second, Artesia is set up for that training. It is mainly ranges and they recently expanded all the ranges there to accommidate the Border Patrol and several other programs that are taught there. There is also a giant aircraft graveyard in Roswell, about 30 miles to the north of Artesia. Perchance they are using the old mothballed planes for training purposes (makes sense to me) Second, the FFDO idea is kinda silly when you have Air Marshals on board. The armed pilot thing is their way (the pilots) of saying we don't want you (Marshal's ) on our airplanes. By the way, the pilots and airline industry are very political and have some major lobbyist in Washington, thats how they got the armed FFDO thing to begin with. Also if you ever meet some of those pilots that want to be armed, you will soon learn that they miss the days of flying the F14 or F16 and sometimes are still looking for the arrester hook on the flight deck. They are very gung ho and have that idea that they missed something in Top-Gun, and are the guys that ended up "flying the loads of rubber dog sh*# out of Hong Kong" route. Leave the police work to the Marshals, they are the cops. I feel better knowing that the pilots are locked away inside the cockpit and the door is sealed. They don't need to be playing Starskey and Hutch while trying to fly the airplane too.
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I agree.
Link Posted: 7/2/2003 11:31:50 PM EDT
Smoky and TAC- let me clear up a few things for you. 1. Pilots don't have a problem with Marshals being aboard. There have always been armed LEO's aboard. It's nothing new. 2. until the 70's, many pilots did carry guns, and in fact a few hijackings were prevented. 3. There is no practical way to put Marshals on every flight. There would need to be a force the size of the USMC. At the end of the day, Airline flying is a business The costs cannot be prohibitive. 4. Defending the flight deck is the most basic of duties. Pilots wish to safeguard the airplane out of their sense or responsibility, and there own will to live. Not some misguided Rambo fantasy. 6. Try to keep your opinions to yourself when you have no idea what you are talking about. You just illustrate your own ignorance and stupidity.
Link Posted: 7/2/2003 11:35:11 PM EDT
smokey and tac, A couple of questions for you guys. What percentage of planes carry air marshals? Who pays the salary for the air marshals? Do the airlines get reimbursed for the loss of revenue when an air marshal occupies a seat? "The Boxer-Bunning S. 516 would close the loophole, and include cargo pilots in the Federal Flight Deck Officers program. As Sen. Boxer points out, a hijacked cargo plane can damage a ground target, such as a nuclear power plant, just as severely as a commercial airliner. Current security of cargo planes is very poor. Cockpit doors are not reinforced, and it is easy for unauthorized persons to sneak onto the tarmac and get on a plane...."If someone with diminished capacity can do this, think what terrorists might do."" Now there's some wonderful logic from my esteemed Senator.
Link Posted: 7/2/2003 11:39:27 PM EDT
Originally Posted By smokycity: Second, the FFDO idea is kinda silly when you have Air Marshals on board.
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Well, the problem with that is that there isn't enough Air Marshals for every single flight. There is only a very small number. However, there is a pilot on every flight.
The armed pilot thing is their way (the pilots) of saying we don't want you (Marshal's ) on our airplanes.
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No, its their way of saying: try to take over this plane, and die.
By the way, the pilots and airline industry are very political and have some major lobbyist in Washington, thats how they got the armed FFDO thing to begin with.
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So does a whole lot of other causes. That doesn't mean its wrong. The main reason they got this is because they are the last defense of the plane. An Air Marshall, if there is even one aboard, might get caught in the back while a hijacker just goes into the cockpit. With a gun in the cockpit, there is a very small chance that the plane will be over taken.
Also if you ever meet some of those pilots that want to be armed, you will soon learn that they miss the days of flying the F14 or F16 and sometimes are still looking for the arrester hook on the flight deck. They are very gung ho and have that idea that they missed something in Top-Gun, and are the guys that ended up "flying the loads of rubber dog sh*# out of Hong Kong" route.
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That's a bunch of bull. How does carrying a gun even come close to any of what you suggest they want to remember? These guys just want to defend themselves, their passengers, and the people on the ground.
Leave the police work to the Marshals, they are the cops.
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Just like we should disarm everybody and let the cops do their job? Problem is that they can't be everywhere at once, and they might not get there in time. But anyway, this isn't police work, its simple self defense.
I feel better knowing that the pilots are locked away inside the cockpit and the door is sealed.
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Doors can be broken down. It might take a bit, but they can eventually be breached. I'd feel much safer that the pilot was armed, just like I feel safer when I know myself and others are armed.
They don't need to be playing Starskey and Hutch while trying to fly the airplane too.
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That's a cheap shot. They will only use the gun if a hijack is attempting to take over the plane. Most planes are automated, so they don't need as much concentration. Plus there is a copilot to help out. Besides, how can they try to fly the plane with a hijacker bashing their heads in or cutting their throat?
Link Posted: 7/3/2003 9:46:22 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/3/2003 9:52:36 AM EDT by smokycity]
Originally Posted By BillofRights: 6. Try to keep your opinions to yourself when you have no idea what you are talking about. You just illustrate your own ignorance and stupidity.
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No disrespect intended but,,um,,unless you are an Air Marshal, or a pilot for a major carrier, I think I have every right to express [u]my opinion[/u]. By the way, I happen to have a lot more insight into this than you may think. Considering I work for the FAA.
What percentage of planes carry air marshals? Who pays the salary for the air marshals? Do the airlines get reimbursed for the loss of revenue when an air marshal occupies a seat?
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The percentage of flights covered is a "classified" number. (As it is said by TSA; Transportation Security Administration, the parent organization of the Air Marshals). The number of Marshal's is also a classified number. Marshals are Federal LEO's they are paid by the TSA. There is a "aviation security fee/tax" of $5 tacked onto every aircraft passenger ticket sold, after 9/11, to assist in covering the cost of the additional security this covers Marshals and the TSA baggage screeners). Marshal's work under Title 49 USC (United States Code) which pertains to avaition security. Marshals fly on all US flagged carriers (which there are 82 of), have arrest authority, and are trained for 12 weeks vs the week for the FFDO status. Yes, the government re-imburses the industry in a way for the seats that are occupied by the marshal's. It is done in the form of tax credits. If you read any of the in flight magazines, you would find that NorthWest Airlines is very vocal about the current security requirments and has a bias against the marshal program. Not to single NW out, as other airlines also grouse about the marshals occupying the seats, and claim that they are loosing revenue of those seats. (I think that the public feels safer knowing that there are marshals there and if they didn't know that, there would fewer people flying) As it was also stated in this thread, flying LEO's is nothing new. The Air Marshal program has been around since about 1970, when it was instituted by President Nixon. It just got smaller over the years through attrition and the fact that there had not been any significant hijackings of US carriers since about 1985 until 9-11. It was also run by the FAA until the government created the TSA. The primary resposibility for investigating hijackings falls to the FBI, with assistance of the TSA. As far as LEO's carrying weapon on aircraft, the FAA created very specific rules. Mainly, any federal LEO can carry on board, this includes FBI, USSS, DEA, USMS, Postal Inspectors, Border Patrol, INS ect. State and locals may also carry, if they meet specific criteria, like they have a need to be armed on board (prisoner trasnport, will be considered "on-duty" as soon as they get to their destination, and the parent agency has requested, and received permission for the officer to be armed.) Final discretion for LEO's to be armed on board falls to the "pilot in command" with the exception of FBI and Air Marshals, based on their authority (beleive it or not, federal agencies have specific area of responsibility and my not stray from those boundaries) Most of the time pilots don't have a problem with any federal officer carrying his issued weapon. But there are those pilots who think they are the be all to end all and will refuse to allow the LEO to board, since it is "his" aircraft. (it's a $25,000.00 fine by the way for the pilot to do this to a Air Marshal in the performance of his duties; and it has happened.) Also, the FFDO program was not extended beyond passenger carriers, pilots for FED-EX, UPS, and like companies are exempt from attending the program. Which I will agree is another silly thing. I would agree more with arming pilots of cargo aircraft more than passenger planes. But arming pilots raises more problem in my opinion. First they are employees of the airline they fly for, they are not govenment employees. If they land in a foreign country, what do you do with their weapon? For that matter, what about landing in places Like NYC? They can't carry the weapon out of the secure areas of the airport, for if they do, they are committing a crime of carrying a concealed weapon in that area. At least with the Marshal's they have protocol for the securing their weapons with the US embassy in a foreign country, and being Federal LEO's they can carry anywhere domestically. Edited to ad: You can research a lot of this on the web. USA Today and MSNBC have done a lot of articles both pro and con about these programs.
Link Posted: 7/3/2003 7:22:04 PM EDT
They can increase the amount of armed LEOs by allowing off-duty local LEOs to carry provided they pass a qual course and maintain a degree of proficiency equivlant to the Air Marshals, and then are deputized as air marshals when in a plane or airport. But the pilots don't like this idea because it would negate their need for guns. I don't like the fact that EVERYONE knows where they can get a firearm through an unsecured door, in the possession of a pilot whose experience with firearms is 2 wks at FLETEC. And don't tell me most pilots are ex military, you and me both know how much handgun training they get.
Link Posted: 7/4/2003 7:58:42 AM EDT
Smoky, I'm curious: what do you do in the FAA? There are lots of jobs in the FAA that don't give any more insight into arming pilots than working at 7/11. I'm a bit curious also about where you are running into the "frustrated top gun types". I've been in the business for 30 years, and I've yet to run into one; the guys currently flying F16's in the Guard are aviation professionals. There must be an exception somewhere, but I've not met one. Pilots vary in temperment (like every one else), and some are great guys with some being not so great, but the nuts get weeded out pretty quick, generally before getting a job in commercial aviation. I have to wonder if the frustrated fighter jock comment might be sour grapes? Your other comments have been answered already.
Link Posted: 7/4/2003 9:09:28 AM EDT
TSA - Transportation Security Administration
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Let's get it right. TSA stands for: Take Scissors Away By confiscating these dangerous weapons (nial clippers, knitting needles, etc), we make the skies safer.
Link Posted: 7/4/2003 9:21:40 AM EDT
Originally Posted By tac45: They can increase the amount of armed LEOs by allowing off-duty local LEOs to carry provided they pass a qual course and maintain a degree of proficiency equivlant to the Air Marshals, and then are deputized as air marshals when in a plane or airport. But the pilots don't like this idea because it would negate their need for guns.
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Yep, only LEOs should be trusted with guns on a plane. How would it negate their need for having a firearm if there was one, if even that, "highly trained" LEO on board? I think its the other way around, if pilots where allowed to carry firearms, in regular holsters, not lock boxs, it would eliminate the need for LEOs on board, and the LEOs don't like that because we need protecting, ya know?[rolleyes] That doesn't eliminate their need for a firearm anymore than police being armed eliminates me from needing a CCW.
I don't like the fact that EVERYONE knows where they can get a firearm through an unsecured door, in the possession of a pilot whose experience with firearms is 2 wks at FLETEC
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I'm sure the pilot will just hand it over to a would be hijacker, right? That makes about as much sense as the "experts" telling women not to carry because its more likely that the gun will be taken from them and used against them.
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