Pilots want more authority to carry guns

Jan. 23, 2012 at 11:40 AM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Airline pilots are seeking expanded authority to carry handguns in airports, a U.S. group said.

Pilots are allowed to have weapons in cockpits but they say it is not enough to keep aviation as safe as it can be, and they want approval to carry weapons anywhere on the plane or in an airport terminal, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Sunday.

"That would put us in line with law enforcement," said Marcus Flagg of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Association, which represents armed pilots.

He said the number of pilots trained and qualified to carry guns is just behind that of the FBI, which has 13,800 armed agents, and that the goal is better protection against a terrorist attack and stronger safeguards for U.S. commercial aviation.

As the law stands, he said, pilots cannot even visit a restroom with a holstered firearm.

Pilots can learn weapons skills in an intensive six-day training course. Flagg said armed pilots are on five times more flights than federal air marshals and are the "last line of defense" in air safety.

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