Pro-Gun Group Sees 'Hollow Victory' in Arming Cargo Pilots

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - A pro-gun group says a new law allowing cargo pilots to carry concealed weapons may be a "hollow victory," if the Bush administration continues to limit the number of pilots who are certified to carry weapons in the cockpit.

Gun Owners of America said it welcomes President Bush's signature on the law last Friday. But GOA worries that the administration will try to limit the number of cargo pilots who carry guns, just as it has curtailed the number of passenger pilots who are eligible to carry concealed weapons.

"We are excited to see that common-sense legislation has finally passed to allow cargo pilots to carry firearms in their planes," said GOA Communications Director Erich Pratt.
"Cargo planes are much more vulnerable to terrorist hijackers than are passenger
planes," he added.

But, according to Pratt, the Transportation Security Administration is doing everything it can to discourage pilots from applying for certification to carry weapons in the cockpit.

"One must remember that the administration has opposed this program from the very beginning," Pratt said in a press release.

"When Congress passed legislation to arm pilots in 2001 -- just two months after 9-11 -- the administration refused to arm even one pilot. Thus, Congress had to pass additional legislation in 2002, ordering the executive branch to start arming pilots immediately.

"While the TSA has technically complied with last year's law, it has only done so in the manner of a little child who goes to his room when ordered -- stomping his feet along the way."

Pilots' groups say that at the current rate of arming pilots, it will take 15 years to arm all pilots who wish to carry guns, Gun Owners of America noted

The group urged President Bush to "bring in TSA chief David Stone for some career counseling."

Bush should order Stone to pick up the pace for certifying pilots - or, said Pratt, "send Stone packing."

Gun Owners of America describes itself as a national gun lobby with over 350,000 members.

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