Senators Versus TSA On Security...

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Bill Calls For Speedier Arming Of Pilots...

"They'll get the message or they'll lose their money for the program. We'll put it somewhere where it will get the job done." Some tough words for the Transportation Security Administration came last Thursday from a Kentucky senator who sponsored a bill that could see up to two-thirds of airline pilots automatically qualified to carry guns (in holsters, not lockboxes) anywhere on an airplane. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) said the TSA must get more guns on airplanes in a big hurry or lose the right to oversee the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program. "We're not interested in any excuses from here on out," Bunning told a news conference. Bunning, along with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Conrad Burns (D-Mt.), sponsored the Cockpit Security Technical Corrections and Improvements Act, designed to kick-start the process of arming pilots, which has been criticized as slow, expensive and overly demanding on applicants. The bill would force the TSA to train any pilot volunteering to carry a gun within 90 days. But those with military or police backgrounds (about 60 percent, according to the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations) would be able to start packing immediately, and training would follow in six months. Under the bill, pilots would no longer be restricted to carrying guns only in the cockpit. The show of force would also be spread to international routes. As for the training, the bill would require that more training facilities be opened all over the U.S. (there is only one, now, in New Mexico) and that the government cover the expenses of trainees.