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ALPA Testifies at Hearing on Firearms for Pilots

by Airline Pilots Association

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Citing a continued need to maximize airline security, a spokesman for the nation’s largest pilot union today urged Congress to pass a bill introduced Wednesday that would mandate a program to allow pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit. "More than 3,000 people were murdered, billions of dollars of property damage was incurred, the nation’s economy was rocked and is still suffering, thousands of people were laid off, and billions of dollars of new spending will be allocated to security both in this country and around the globe for years to come – all because eight pilots were killed. It is obvious, or should be, that protecting the flight deck and its occupants against hijackers is now tantamount to protecting our national economy," said Capt. Steve Luckey, security chairman for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

Luckey was testifying at hearings by the House Aviation Subcommittee, which is looking into the question of arming pilots. "We are convinced that the ailing airline industry, which is still profusely hemorrhaging red ink, could virtually disappear if another successful attack is launched against us. If the airline industry takes another downward spiral, it most certainly will harm hundreds of businesses as well," Luckey said. ALPA strongly supports the Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act, HR-4635, sponsored by Don Young (R-AK) and John Mica (R-FL), which mandates a program for qualified, trained, volunteer pilots to be deputized as Federal Flight Deck Officers and carry firearms as a last line of defense against terrorism.

Lucky’s testimony offers reasons why this program is necessary and rebuttals to objections to firearms in the cockpit. From 1961 to 2001, pilots were permitted to carry firearms. Many did so – and safely – during the Cuban hijackings of the 1970s. Ironically, the FAA revoked that regulation last July, shortly before the Sept. 11 attack. Luckey said that based on information from the Department of Justice, the Office of Homeland Defense, the Transportation Security Administration and other sources, the risk of another terrorist attack against airlines still exists. And the next attack would not be with box cutters, but with smuggled firearms or undetected explosives carried by terrorists. ALPA represents more than 62,000 cockpit crewmembers at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

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