Armed Pilots report


March 5, 2003, 11:15 AM
From: Gary Marbut/MSSA/TOS <> [ Save address ]
Subject: Priority 3 - Armed Pilots report
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 2003 21:37:08 -0700
Dear MSSA Friends,

Having been so busy with the Montana legislative session, I've not done a
very good job of keeping you informed about federal affairs.

Below is a report on the congressionally-mandated armed pilots program - a
total SNAFU.

Best wishes,



Armed pilots

In late November of 2002, President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act
(HSA), which contained a provision requiring that commercial pilots be
allowed to fly armed, in order to prevent hostile takeover of their
aircraft cockpits. The bill assigned to the Transportation Security
Administration the task of figuring out how to make this program happen.
Congress gave TSA 90 days to hit the ground running with this program.

While this idea was being debated before Congress, TSA officials voiced
strong opposition to the idea, and recommend a small, demonstration program
whereby they'd train just a few pilots to see if the idea would work.

Congress overtly rejected the TSA-suggested mini-program, and passed the
HSA to require that the necessary training be made available to all 60,000
airline pilots currently flying.

Since the HSA became law in November, TSA has been busy figuring out every
way it can to obstruct the will of Congress concerning armed pilots.

The 90-day deadline just expired, and TSA announced magnanimously that they
now have a firm plan to train 48 pilots this year. and are in full
compliance with the will of Congress.

TSA plans to have these 48 pilots trained in a government program, in a
federal government training center, at a cost of $10,000 per pilot.
Meanwhile, TSA has proposals before it from the private sector to train
pilots for as little as $800 per pilot.

TSA says that no pilot will be eligible to take the required training
unless he or she has passed an exceptionally rigorous background and
psychological screening (operating, I presume, on the assumption that if an

airline pilot is already at the controls of a planeload of fuel and
passengers, but is carrying a gun without adequate screening, the pilot
might pull out the gun, point it at his or her own head, and force
themselves to fly the plane into a tall building - yeah, Blazing Saddles

Further, TSA announced, qualifying and trained pilots will only be able to
carry their firearm in a locked box, separate from their person, so they
will be able to deal effectively with any terrorist who is kind enough to
give them five minutes notice to get the gun out of the lockbox.

The extent to which TSA can get away with overtly obstructing the will of
Congress is simply amazing. Yet that's what's happening.

The obstruction is being done primarily by a group of sixth-echelon TSA
employees who are recent transferees from the U.S. Secret Service, and who
hold the elitist opinion that common people cannot be trusted with guns.

This obstruction seems to be tolerated by the chain of command within TSA,
including by TSA chief Admiral Loy, who, up until recently, was the
commander of the U.S. Coast Guard.

President Bush has said that he supports the armed pilot program, but
nobody really expects him to direct TSA to do what Congress and the
Homeland Security Act already told them to do.

Meanwhile, MSSA has been urging Montana U.S. Senator Conrad Burns to bring
his influence to bear to get the armed pilots program back on track - to
get the intended 60,000 pilots trained this year. We've told him that
there simply are not sufficient available training resources at government
facilities to train a meaningful number of pilots. We've assured him that
only the private sector has the capacity to accomplish the will of Congress
concerning pilots.

Senator Burns was one of the early supporters of the armed pilots idea, and
is said to have been influential in getting the concept successfully

through the U.S. Senate. For full disclosure, I should also say that
Conrad wrote a very nice letter of support for a proposal I've had pending
with TSA since November 25th to provide training for 1,200 pilots in
Montana this year.

In multiple exchanges with Burns' staff, staffers admit that they are
powerless to compel TSA to actually do anything about implementing the
armed pilots provision of the Homeland Security Act. Practically, Senator
Burns has lots of important issues to deal with. The armed pilots program
is only one of them. And, as with anything else, where Burns and his staff
place any issue on their priority list is dependent in part on how many
messages they get from constituents demanding attention and action.
Finally, no matter how high this issue may be on his priority list, there
are definite limits to what one or a few members of Congress can do to move
a sulky bureaucracy.

I've placed scores of phone calls to Burns' office, to TSA, to airline

pilots organizations, to the NRA, and to private-sector firearm training
providers, trying to break this logjam. Frankly, I haven't been able to
make anything happen.

So, there's the report on the armed pilots program. It's a fiasco. It's a
SNAFU. It's been turned into just another federal government program - all
talk and no action, with nearly all of the taxpayer money being spent in
ways that will get soaked up in the gears of the government machinery.
And, through it all, there' been overt obstruction by a few mid-level
bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

I wish I could give you a better report.

I'll paste below an informative article about this issue.

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association


John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at
202/636-3284 or by e-mail:

Suspect pilots

The nation's commercial airline pilots are literally breaking out of the

cockpit to help Inside the Beltway identify the world's most absurd
terrorism-related security measures.

"My name is Andy Hays and I am a pilot with American Airlines," writes the
Virginia-based aviator. "We recently had a female pilot - in uniform -
passing through airport security where she was slated to fly the airplane on
her regular three-day trip.
"As she was having her carry-on bag searched, she inquired, 'What are you
looking for?' The response she received from the security [person]:
'Anything that you could use to break into the cockpit.' Not only was she
working the flight but in her pocket, as is the case with all of us, was a
cockpit key."

Like several other pilots who wrote to us, airline transport pilot Jerry
Johnson observes: "The government is letting guns back in the cockpit, but
only in lockboxes. How very useful. I always practice drawing a firearm from
a lockbox. Don't the police and marshals and other law enforcement people?
Surely they do.

"One can only sigh," he says, "at the incorrigible dimwits who instituted
this move. In light of the fact that terrorists took over four airliners on
September 11, 2001, and killed almost 3,000 people with box cutters, we
sheep in the general public sit aghast at the brilliance emanating from our
own government officials to prevent a similar occurrence."

Says Lee Allen, of Provo, Utah: "The idea that pilots must take a
psychological test and a 48-hour course in firearms safety before being
allowed to take a pistol on board planes that they are flying. How can these
guys be trusted to fly planes full of hundreds of people if they need this
kind of vetting to carry a gun?"

From Georgia, writing on the condition of anonymity: "I am a major airline
captain, and I recently had my small 1-inch blade pocket-knife confiscated
at LGA [New York´s LaGuardia Airport]. I was about to command a Boeing 757,
loaded with 47,000 pounds of fuel, on a flight to Florida. Keep in mind, the

flight time from LGA to the Empire State Building is less than 2 minutes.
"When I asked why I couldn't keep my knife, I was told that if I were
allowed to keep it, I might use it to gain control of an airplane. Such is
the absurdity that flight crew members are exposed to on a daily basis."

Finally, Buck Evinger, of Omaha, Ark., writes: "While going through St.
Louis airport security, I was pulled out for the 'full search' procedure. As
I sat down to remove my shoes, I noticed that the man sitting next to me was
about 90 years old, had two hearing aids, an oxygen bottle and mask, and a
walker. Since he was to frail to remove his own shoes, the security guard
had to help him.

"The old man looked at me and said, 'Maybe I should have stayed home today.' "

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March 5, 2003, 11:47 AM
Pathetic and infuriating! :banghead: :fire:

4v50 Gary
March 5, 2003, 01:37 PM
Are TSA employees leftover from the Klinton empire? They can't be Bushmen.

March 5, 2003, 02:03 PM
No? These are the same Bushmen attempting to get records on every library book being checked out around the country, as well as creating instant "passenger profiles" that assess your potential risk when you check in at the airport. And no, I am not a member of the tinfoil hat society, these are actual measures being considered by the current administration.

March 5, 2003, 02:52 PM
I predicted this all along. When you work within government bureaucracies as I have for two decades, you learn that when they get their hands in something, it always bogs down.
Gross inefficeincy, emphasis on the wrong things, cost over-runs,
unrealistic schedules. On and on.

They [govt.] are BARELY up to delivering the mail.

I predict that very few commercial pilots will be armed [in an effective manner] within the next year.

Any takers?

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