The Reform Party USA has come out in support of legislation that would allow commercial airline pilots to be armed for added in-flight security following a series of terrorist attacks in the United States.

The bill, H.R. 2896, entitled, “The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001,” was introduced Sept. 14 by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, just three days after terrorists slammed three fuel-laden airliners into the twin World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.

“The Reform Party USA … joins the Airline Pilot’s Association and Gun Owners of America in support of arming all pilots and deputizing them as air marshals,” said a statement Wednesday.

“Americans have lost confidence in their own airline industry. Travel is dramatically down because those we elected to guard our national security did not take the necessary steps to do so,” said Gerald Moan, Reform USA’s national chairman. “It is imperative that airline pilots be armed to protect themselves and their passengers as a component of the national security package.”

Party officials also said they support measures to better secure cockpit doors and those which would provide for additional security personnel on every flight. However, officials said any improvements to security should not come at a cost of personal freedoms.

“A delicate balance between privacy and protection requires wise leadership making sensible decisions,” Moan said. “Congressman Paul’s bill will help keep America the land of the free while we rebuild the home of the brave.”

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 Sept. 20. Takemoto said the rule was being changed because of the recent terrorist hijackings and attacks.

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