Saturday, March 19, 2005


While the pace of training and deployment of armed pilots on commercial flights has picked up, supporters of the program say the Bush administration still is making it unnecessarily difficult for crews to take guns into the cockpit. Pilots who monitor the program estimate that between 4,000 and 4,500 have been trained and deputized to carry guns since the Federal Flight Deck Officer program began in April 2003. That total is about three times as many as a year ago, yet a fraction of the 95,000 pilots who fly for U.S. airlines.

David Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, a group formed to lobby for guns in the cockpit, said tens of thousands of his colleagues are interested in the program. "We have an armed pilots program that's arming very few pilots," said Mackett, who hasn't signed up because of the way the program is run. He said many others won't join for the same reason.

Mackett contends the Transportation Security Administration isn't moving to get substantially more pilots trained to carry guns because it has never really wanted the program. TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield disputed that, saying agency chief David Stone fully backs the effort and that procedures have been changed to more quickly get pilots into the program. "I've got a pipeline with a couple of thousand applicants and we're running two full classes a week," Hatfield said. The TSA can train about 50 pilots per class. Hatfield said he couldn't disclose which procedures had been adjusted because of the program's sensitive security nature.

More here

Massachusetts: Pistol-packing mamas, and daughters: "It was a typical practice session for members of the Second Amendment Sisters, a national women's gun rights group. Since it was founded in 1999, the Texas-based organization has grown to about 10,000 members in 30 states .... Second Amendment Sisters aims to educate women about firearms and gun laws. Promotional pamphlets feature a single red rose and the group's slogan, 'Self defense is a basic human right.' Members get together to learn how to load and shoot revolvers, semiautomatic pistols, and rifles."

Maryland: Court blocks gun show groups from lawsuit: "A federal appeals court has ruled that a gun show promoter and an exhibitor have no standing to challenge a Montgomery County law that denies funding to facilities that display and sell firearms. The decision Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reverses a lower court's ruling in favor of the promoter, Frank Krasner Enterprises Ltd., and the exhibitor, RSM Inc. Until the law was passed, Krasner, of Frederick, leased space for gun shows twice a year from the Montgomery County Agricultural Center in Gaithersburg, a privately owned, nonprofit organization that received about $500,000 from the county over 10 years."

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