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In the wake of last week’s hijackings and terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has introduced a bill that would permanently allow commercial airline pilots to be armed.
The bill, H.R. 2896, entitled, “The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001,” was introduced Sept. 14, just three days after terrorists slammed three fuel-laden airliners into both of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked airliner, believed headed to Washington, D.C., crashed 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Authorities have said there is evidence to believe that some of the passengers overpowered hijackers and forced the plane down.
The bill states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no department or agency of the federal government shall prohibit any pilot, copilot, or navigator of an aircraft, or any law enforcement personnel specifically detailed for the protection of that aircraft, from carrying a firearm.” It has no cosponsors.
Currently, Federal Aviation Administration regulations permit pilots to be armed, provided they are properly authorized.
Federal Aviation Regulation 108.11 allows armed individuals on aircraft “if the person having the weapon is authorized to have the weapon by the (airline) and the Administrator [of the FAA] and has successfully completed a course of training in the use of firearms acceptable to the Administrator.”
That rule, however, is slated to change in November, according to FAA officials.
“The new rule will not include authorization (to carry firearms) and crew members will no longer be allowed to carry arms,” FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto told CNSNews.com Thursday. Takemoto said the rule was being changed because of the recent terrorist hijackings and attacks.
A noted gun rights organization, Virginia-based Gun Owners of America, has picked up Paul’s cause and is pushing for approval of his bill.
“It would be a mistake to respond to last week’s terrorist attacks by punishing the American people with more infringements on their liberties,” Paul said last week. “We don’t need more intrusive government. We need freedom.”
“Freedom saves lives,” he continued, “and my bill is a modest step towards letting pilots defend their lives and the lives of their passengers – not to mention the lives of thousands of innocent people who may be working in office buildings.”
The bill would overrule the strict FAA regulations scheduled to go into effect in November.
“It seems clear that billions of dollars for metal detectors and ID checks have proven ineffective in stopping terrorism,” said Larry Pratt, executive director of GOA.
“Villains always manage to get weapons and always seem to get them through security checkpoints. Despite this obvious fact, many voices are now calling for Americans to give up more of their freedoms. What we really need is to instigate procedures that will serve as a deterrent to terrorists,” he said.
“We grieve for the families of these victims, and hope Congress will implement policies that will save lives in the future,” he added.
GOA spokesman Eric Pratt told WorldNetDaily that the legislation is dormant at the moment.
“Nothing is moving forward right now” in wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, he said. But, he added, “We’re working with some folks in the Senate as well,” to win support for Paul’s bill.
The Violence Policy Center and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence failed to return phone calls seeking comment on Paul’s proposal.
“My approach to this is to allow an airline to take care of their property just like we allow our chemical plants and our refineries to protect their property,” Paul told CNSNews.com.