Deadheading Pilots Want To Keep Guns

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Federal Flight Deck Officers (pilots certified to carry guns) want those privileges extended beyond the cockpit. Pilots' groups are asking Congress to amend the current legislation and let them pack even when they aren't working. "For the sake of safety, we urge Congress to correct this handling issue," Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in written testimony. Current rules for the 44 pilots certified so far requires them to put their guns in a lockbox and have a baggage handler stow it in the hold when they fly as passengers. The pilots claim that increases the chance of the gun going off accidentally or ending up in the wrong hands. Of course, it also prevents packin' pilots from preventing a hijack attempt from the pax side of the cockpit door, which may or may not be the real reason the groups are complaining. At any rate, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) isn't keen on a rule change just yet. "We're still in the evaluation phase," TSA spokesman Robert Johnson told The Washington Post. He said the agency is gathering feedback from the first class of gun-ready pilots as it gets ready to hold more classes. Meanwhile, some legislators want more guns in pilots' hands sooner. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation's aviation committee, said the process needs to be speeded up. "I'm not pleased that TSA is creating an overly costly, complicated and bureaucratic program," he told the Associated Press. He's urging the TSA to allow private gun ranges to train pilots. A range owner in Arizona claims he could train 100 pilots for half the $6,200 now being spent to train each one. Some of those who have been through the course commented they were pleased it covered physical defense tactics and stressed professionalism as part of the weapons training.