Skip to comments.Feds packing heat on planes: A safety issue?
Posted on 01/09/2004 12:36:43 AM PST by JohnHuang2
HOMELAND IN SECURITY
Feds packing heat on planes: A safety issue?
Concerns raised that EPA, FDIC agents carry guns, while pilots restricted
By Ron Strom
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Though commercial airline pilots must go through a strict, complex process to be allowed to carry a handgun in the cockpit, federal agents from agencies such as the Department of Education and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation routinely carry guns into airports and onto airplanes a fact that raises safety concerns with pilots.
"It's just crazy," Capt. Greg Rice, a pilot with American Airlines, told WorldNetDaily. "[Federal agents] don't need guns on my airplane or in the terminal."
Rice explained employees with several federal agencies routinely carry their concealed guns onto commercial flights when they have "official duty status." The agents fill out forms with the ticket agents, which then are forwarded to the gate agents and on to the pilots, Rice said. That informs the pilot an armed federal agent will be flying with him.
Dave Adams of the Federal Air Marshal Service confirmed such federal agents initially check in at ticket counters to present their identification.
"Usually the agents will poke their head in the cockpit and say hi" before the plane takes off, Rice said.
He emphasized these armed agents are not designated federal air marshals, but come from many different agencies in the government. A fellow pilot of Rice recently flew with an armed employee of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Rice says he has no problem with the agents having concealed weapons if they are needed at their destination, but there is no reason they need them on an airplane. They should be in their checked baggage, he said.
"Why would a Department of Education official need a gun on my airplane?" Rice asked. "To guard test scores?"
Rice says he and other pilots have complained to the airlines, but management says their hands are tied due to federal regulations that allow the feds to carry firearms onboard.
"They've been getting a lot of complaints from pilots," he said.
Rice, who spent 21 years in the military and is an expert marksman, pointed out the irony of a policy that prevents him from protecting his plane with a firearm without an extensive Federal Flight Deck Officer training program, at his own expense, while countless federal agents are allowed guns on planes. He is scheduled to take the training in April.
Rice flew on Christmas Day during a heightened state of alert around the world. He said if he had received notice a federal agent named "Akmed Ahmed" was flying on his plane with a gun, he would have protested.
"I'm not going to let Akmed Ahmed fly on my plane with a gun," he said.
"As the captain, I am responsible for the safety of 142 passengers and six crewmembers," he told WND, "and I am not given any information on the armed passengers' level of training, experience, mental or emotional stability or if they hit the airport bar before getting on my aircraft."
Rice questioned the process of filling out paperwork to board a plane armed and expressed concern about the possibility of terrorists "falsifying the forms."
"Are the forms under lock and key?" he asked.
The captain pointed out even when he completes the armed-pilot training program, he still will be prohibited from carrying a gun when he is "deadheading" on a plane, traveling to an airport to catch a plane he is scheduled to pilot.
Said Rice, "Even though I know aircraft systems, airline crew procedures and am a trained marksman, the Department of Education worker has easy and instant access to a gun in-flight, and I will not."
Indeed, as WorldNetDaily reported, pilots have complained about the armed-pilots program instituted last year, saying after the training they are subject to guidelines for carrying guns through airports and even in cockpits that are more restrictive than those for other armed federal agents, who have far fewer limitations and can access their weapons much more readily.
The Transportation Security Administration, which enforces the regulations governing firearms on planes, would say very little about the process of credentialing federal and non-federal law-enforcement personnel who board jets armed, citing security reasons.
Said spokesman Darrin Kayser: "There's nothing we can comment on the process involved. We don't want anyone to be able to gain that system and develop false credentials and be able to know the process."
Kayser told WND the information about the process "is considered SSI Sensitive Secret Information."
When asked why an agent from the Department of Education might need to carry a concealed weapon, a spokesman from the agency cited the example of an investigator probing a trade school under suspicion of student-loan fraud.
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No, it would not. Explosive decompression from a small hole is strictly a hollywood movie myth, just like bullets that spark on impact.
How? What proof can you site for that conclusion? Any sources?
That should read, "Capt. Greg Rice, a NEUTERED pilot..."
Also, I'm pretty sure the bullets the sky marshals and pilots carry in their gun are frangible and designed not to penetrate anything except soft targets such as a human body.
Any terrorists showing their faces will be looking like big pin cushions at the destination.
If Rice is still flying for American by the end of next week after making that statement to a reporter, I'll be surprised.
Some air leaks out very slowly through the tiny hole, and unless the pilot drops to below 10,000 feet within 15 minutes or so, those little yellow oxygen masks might drop down and alarm the passengers.
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