I. Main Issue
Should Air Transport Pilots be allowed to bear arms in the cockpit?
This issue is being debated now before U.S. Senate following recent passage of H.R. 4635 Arming of Pilots Against Terrorist Acts on July 10, 2002. A similar yes vote would result in changes to Federal Aviation Administration Airline Pilot Operating Handbook Procedures, therefore, the debate issue is one of policy.
1. Is the public willing to fund airport security at the gate, the first line of defense? Many airline companies are barely surviving since the tragic events of 9-11. Well publicized bankruptcies filed recently by US. Air and Southwest Airlines cleary demonstrates the airline industry's dire financial straits, which will further constrain future operating budgets.
2. Will fortifying cockpit doors really stop aircraft hijackings? Witnessing terrorists murdering passengers during hijackings may prompt a human response from pilots to open the door.
3. Will increased opposition in the Senate kill H.B. 4635 that has already been passed? Conservative Senate opposition is mounting supported by the Executive Office.
4. Do we want to arm those pilots that choose to fly intoxicated? Evidence at a recent preliminary court hearing in Atlanta clearly showed two airline pilots drinking and shooting pool well into the early morning hours prior to flying passengers. They were convicted. The FAA pulled their Air Transport Pilot Licenses.
5. Is the Federal Government willing to spend millions of dollars needed to upgrade airport security? Issue here is money.
6. Will hidden Sky Marshals on board really serve as a deterrent to hijacking?
7. Are stun guns an effective deterrent? Many think not because of their inability to inflict fatal injuries.
8. What's to stop 'rambo type' pilots from shooting up passenger cabins during a hijacking?
Allowing Airline Pilots to carry guns in the cockpit will serve as a deterrent to acts of terrorism by equipping those in control of the aircraft with a final line of defense.