ARMED PILOTS REDUX: APSA’S FIGHT INTENSIFIES
Fighting for Our Airlines—Whether They Like it or Not!
In this issue: The fight for armed pilots INTENSIFIES.
APSA hires full time Washington lobbyist. NOW? Learn WHY.
Three APSA pilots in first FFDO class. New APSA Website,
memberships, discounts nearing launch. APSA Growing! Be
This just in: Air Transport Association’s (ATA) chief economist
David Swierenga, as quoted in the March 17 issue of Aviation
Week & Space Technology, regarding the effect of more
terrorism against US Airlines coupled with the present war:
“Losses would be unbearable. They could approach $13 billion
and threaten the continued viability of the industry.” The
ATA adds, “…a total industry collapse is virtually certain.”
The ATA believes the probability of more terrorism
against our airlines is “relatively high.”
In other words, the airline lobby group acknowledges that
the possibility of another terrorist attack on our airplanes
is high and that its effects would destroy the industry.
Yet they and the TSA still resist arming pilots! We find
ironic the fact that APSA still has to fight against the
ATA for the most common-sense, law-enforcement-approved
(and cheapest) security enhancement capable of preventing
cockpit takeovers. If arming pilots deters or prevents more
hijackings, it will be APSA that averted a “total industry
collapse,” not the industry itself.
The Good News is, Pilots Can Attend Training to be Armed.
The Bad News is, You Can’t Get There from Here.And, Perhaps,
Who Wants To?
Wait a minute, did we say, “still fighting?” Arming pilots
is the ‘law of the land,’ why doesn’t APSA just move on
to the next problem? We have been accused of being a little
too single-issue focused: Guns in the cockpit vs. other
aspects of airline security. The reason is obvious: our
adversaries just won’t quit. As long as someone is swinging
at you, you have to fight back. We aren’t choosing to keep
this issue alive, the ATA and TSA are. We were hoping that
the very strong law we ushered through Congress had put
this matter to bed. By all rights, it should have. But then,
some people don’t do the Right Things.
Arming pilots is the law; but the TSA is not letting that
deter their political agenda. Three of four APSA directors
volunteered for the first “prototype” Federal Flight Deck
Officer (FFDO) class have been selected and are being screened
(and screened…and screened). As we have related, the “screening”
process is far beyond what any other Federal Law Enforcement
Officer has to undergo—and includes a multi-step, subjective
psychological screen that is clearly aimed at deterring
participation and minimizing graduations from the course.
This for pilots who are already among the most screened
Some APSA Directors
said that, if they hadn’t invested 30-40 hours per week
on this issue over the last year and a half, even they would
not volunteer. The TSA threatens in its thirteen page application
to report to the FAA and the pilot’s employer “any information
obtained throughout the selection process” about the applicant.
It is our view most will choose not to play “I bet my job”
on this program. This is a purposeful violation of the will
of the Congress, which clearly intends a large program that
will have the desired deterrent value. In a brazen twist,
in direct violation of the law, one APSA Director has been
prevented by his airline from attending this class—they
refused to allow him the time off when it was clearly within
their ability and convenience to grant it. (Another APSA
pilot is attending in his place.) This has set a dangerous
precedent: if you can’t get a solid week off—on your own—you
don’t go to this once-in-a-lifetime training event. This
is yet another obstacle APSA is attacking.
“It’s Ten O’Clock. Do You Know Where Your Gun is Now?”
APSA has declared the weapon carry and custody protocol
(lockboxes pilots are to carry in their luggage) the TSA
has mandated “Not Acceptable.” It violates long-established
law enforcement procedure of on-body carry. Even the TSA
says, “We realize this carry method increases the likelihood
of theft and loss of weapons.” They say they chose lockboxes
because they don’t think the law the Congress passed allows
them to issue badges and authorize pilots to carry. Bilge
water: the law specifically does exactly that! APSA believes
that forcing pilots to relinquish custody of their firearms
by placing them in their flightbags/suitcases (which are
often out of pilots’ hands) has the very real potential
of killing the armed pilots program in its infancy. And
if a few pilots get mugged, injured, or killed for their
guns in dark airport parking lots (since the TSA has told
the press all about this inane carry method), that is a
price the TSA is willing to pay. This is the second bill
Congress passed to arm airline pilots—and it was very strongly
worded. We don’t want to tip our hand, but clearly our approach
and goals are different for this next round of legislation,
which we intend to solve a host of problems. Yet this episode
highlights the high-visibility nature of our issue, and
that we can expect perpetual sniping at us. Eternal vigilance
is also the price of armed pilots.
Watching APSA Grow
To get an idea of the pace of our activities, we are finding
more heads to wear all our hats. Former APSA Chairman/current
BOD member Captain Tracy Price has turned over his Government
Affairs leadership to Rob Sproc. Rob becomes VP Government
Affairs, a post to which he brings his experience working
with APA’s Committee for Armed Defense of the Cockpit. Tracy
will focus on board issues. APSA’s new President, Captain
Bob Lambert, will concentrate on moving APSA ahead during
this next phase of our growth. You will see other new names
and faces soon, as board members divest themselves of particular
functions in favor of dedicated board leadership.
Don’t Worry; We’re Professionals
One area of expansion we are thrilled about is hiring a
very experienced Washington lobbyist to represent us and
watchdog. He will work closely with Rob Sproc to cover our
interests. That alone should alert you to the flurry of
in which we are already engaged, and what we see ahead for
Representative Joe Wilson (SC) and Senator Sam Bunning (KY)
are taking leadership roles in our upcoming battles. Stay
tuned to the APSA Website and your email for Action Items!
Many of you have asked when APSA will dive into other areas
of airline security—explosive detection or passenger screening.
The answer is, when we have the resources to expend. Our
adversaries—the airlines and the Administration—have more
people, time, and money to throw at this issue that APSA
does…so we have to work smarter (as well as harder). To
give you a glimpse of what we have been up against: a few
months ago, the ATA ran a full page ad in a national paper
opposing armed pilots. Just that one day’s ad, we figure,
cost twice the total that APSA spent getting the armed pilots
bill passed and signed. We bet that never have so few dollars
yielded such great result in Washington lobbying history.
That victory is due to your involvement when we ask you
to call your elected representatives. In fact, one APSA
director was ushered into the office of a very powerful
congressional Chairman to be chewed out because an APSA
ALERT that targeted him tied up his office’s phone lines
for two days, and they were not
even able to call out. That, Gentle Reader, is impressive
grassroots action on your part.
Good Deals for You; Funds for APSA. Everyone Wins.
As you have seen on our Website, we will soon debut a new
site. We are finally nearing completing numerous deals with
various companies that wish to offer their products through
the APSA site. Again, like hiring a full time lobbyist,
the fact that a number of well-known companies are lining
up to market their wares through the APSA site indicates
a high level of confidence in APSA’s future busyness (business).
Watch for deals on firearms and other security products,
promotional items, and aviation merchandise. You’ll be able
to purchase airline tickets and make rental car reservations
through our site. All aimed at providing APSA with the funds
needed to continue to be the leader in airline security
advocacy. Airline security is ALL we do—not labor, not Second
Amendment. APSA has already jumped to the forefront of airline
security lobbying, and we intend to stay in front.
If you would like to take a larger part in the new, growing
APSA, contact one of the Directors via the email links on
our home page, or APSA@secure-skies.org.
Please don’t forget to donate! While no one at APSA has
received a nickel for any work done, including incidental
expenses, advocating costs money for such things as preparing
and copying documents, and keeping our lobbyist on duty.
Click on www.secure-skies.org
to make a secure (of course!) online donation.
“APSA—SECURING YOUR FLIGHT”
Click on the links below in order to update your membership
Pilot that has signed up for FFDO program
Non pilot or pilot membership (non FFDO)
Order this book today
Guns, Freedom, and Terrorism
In Guns, Freedom, and Terrorism,
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