For Release: Thursday, July 11, 2002
Urges Senate Not To Make the Same Mistake
WASHINGTON, DC – The Violence Policy Center (VPC) strongly denounced yesterday’s passage of the “Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act” (H.R. 4635).
“The House of Representatives has collectively misjudged the effectiveness of guns in the cockpits of our nation’s commercial planes,” Kristen Rand, VPC legislative director stated today. “We strongly urge the Senate not to make the same mistake.”
Facts cited by the VPC in opposition to arming pilots look at the on-the-ground experience of law enforcement personnel:
- One study found that 21 percent of police officers killed with a handgun were shot with their own service weapon.
- Trained law enforcement officers have only an 18 to 22 percent hit ratio in armed confrontations. The cramped quarters of an airliner do not lend themselves to success.
“Unfortunately, pilots are not infallible. In fact, 84 percent of all fatal commercial air crashes are the result of pilot error. In a nation where states prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, we are relying on pilots of passenger planes, where hundreds of lives are at stake, to be both policeman and pilot,” Rand added.
“There are many necessary and constructive steps that can be taken to protect pilots and passengers short of arming pilots. If firearms are absolutely necessary, they should be carried by trained air marshals whose only responsibility is protecting the safety of crew members and passengers,” Rand concluded.
The VPC’s comments submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration on the use of firearms on commercial air flights are available here.