People's Rights Organization Urges Its Members
To Support Arming Airline Pilots
THE Central Ohio Source for Personal Safety Instruction
N E W S R E L E A S E
For Immediate Release
September 26, 2001
-- Measure may save lives in the air and on the ground, prevent future ground attacks
-- Pilots, many of whom are ex-military, are the individuals responsible for what occurs on their aircraft, especially when there is no air marshal on the flight.
COLUMBUS, Ohio, September 25, 2001 - In response to the deadly terrorist attacks of September 11, and the subsequent demands upon the FAA and Congress to permit pilots to be armed,
The People's Rights Organization today urged its members to support this move designed to save lives in the air and on the ground.
"Today the Airline Pilots Association, in a major reversal of policy due to overwhelming demand from its 60,000 members, is demanding that Congress authorize pilots to legally carry firearms in the cockpit," says Dennis Walker, PRO secretary and past chairman. "The People's Rights Organization fully supports this move and we urge our members in Ohio and across the nation to write to their elected representatives, the airline owners, and to the FAA demanding support of this common sense answer to the problem of defending the cockpit and keeping future flights from being turned into flying torpedoes."
"PRO, like an increasing number of pilots, believes the logical answer to stopping hijackers from gaining access to the flight deck rests not only with more secure doors, but also by arming those highly trained individuals we trust to fly us to our destinations. Installing steel doors is a good step, but airline engineers indicate such a move will require a time-consuming major redesign of aircraft. Our economy depends on getting people back in the air. But people won't fly if they fear another hi-jacking. Since air marshals can't possibly be present on EVERY flight, the only logical course of action is to arm pilots," Walker says.
"Recently an American Airlines pilot told reporters that if we trust a pilot with the lives of hundreds of passengers while he or she is commanding a complicated aircraft loaded with 100,000 pounds of highly explosive jet fuel, surely a pilot can be trusted with a firearm that is within reach in the event terrorists attempt to gain access to the cockpit. We couldn't agree more."
Last week, the Airline Pilots Association announced that it would ask that passengers jump in and fight to stop a terrorist event or hi-jacking. Since that time overwhelming demands from pilots and from the public has forced the issue to come before Congress.
"Our understanding is that current Federal Aviation Administration rules permit pilots to carry a gun in the cockpit, but defer the final decision to the airlines and most airlines do not permit this practice," Walker noted. "Since thousands of pilots have started insisting their airlines permit this practice in order to protect the cockpit from terrorists or other intruders, the FAA announced it would begin proceedings to rescind the current regulation allowing pilots to be armed. That is why the pilots now are going to Congress."
There are several types of special ammunition designed to incapacitate an attacker but not to penetrate the skin of an aircraft. And Walker predicts that the first airline that permits its pilots to be armed will likely see a significant jump in business as consumers feel reassured that the airline owners and FAA are concerned about passenger safety in regard to terrorist events.
People's Rights Organization notes that El Al, the state airline of Israel - the other state most often mentioned by radical Islamic terrorists as their enemy - armed its pilots years ago. In recent memory, not one hi-jacking has taken place on an Israeli airplane.
"There will be those who oppose arming pilots," Walker says. "But the pilot is the only person who can keep the tragic events of September 11 from happening again. We realize this program may not be popular with certain anti-self defense groups and anti-gun organizations, but they ignore that it is designed to help save lives. People have the right to be safe when they fly. Many commercial pilots used to carry firearms when they flew until the practice was outlawed by the airlines. Today's concern by federal agencies that the events of September 11 could be repeated is all the more reason to once again give pilots the means to protect their lives - and by extension their aircraft, and potential targets on the ground."
Often, when hi-jackings occur, pilots, crew and passengers have to wait for help from people on the ground. These delays frequently lead to devastating consequences as the world saw with the recent terrorist action. Arming pilots will enable them to defend the cockpit while they work to quickly and safely land their jetliner.
"Dismissing initiatives such as that supported by PRO is the same as intentionally putting passengers on U.S. aircraft in harm's way. Denying pilots access to training and information that may save lives during an altercation in their aircraft would be unconscionable," Walker adds.
The People's Rights Organization is Ohio's most active grassroots group in the fields of Education, Legislation and Litigation. PRO is Central Ohio's leading provider of instruction in the defensive use of firearms for private citizens, having taught monthly courses on Personal Protection with a firearm to women and men since 1989. PRO teaches firearm safety, personal protection, provides crime avoidance instruction, and youth gun accident prevention programs. Since its founding in 1989, the non-profit, non-partisan organization has spent significant resources to promote safety strategies for women and men, most important of which is safe gun handling, personal protection training and personal safety strategy development. During the past seven years, more than 1,500 Ohioans have learned safe gun handling, home firearm safety, basic marksmanship and Ohio law regarding self-defense through monthly PRO classes.
Visit the PRO website at http://www.PeoplesRights.org/.
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