BELLEVUE, WA – Calling it a “tremendous victory for airline passenger safety,” the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) hailed Wednesday’s 310-113 vote by the House of Representatives to arm commercial airline pilots, and called upon the Senate to quickly pass the legislation.

“Against incredible pressure from the airline industry and opposition from Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge and Transportation Security Administration Chief John Magaw, the House acted in the best interests of the flying public,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “This is a tremendous victory for airline passenger safety.”

CCRKBA was first to recommend that airline pilots be armed, just hours after the despicable terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. last Sept. 11. Over the past few months, many others followed CCRKBA’s lead, including the Air Line Pilots Association, Air Travelers Association and Airline Pilots’ Security Alliance. CCRKBA held firm to its recommendation, and urged the Senate to act swiftly.

Under House bill 4635, any of the nation’s estimated 70,000 airline pilots will be allowed to undergo training and background screening in order to carry a gun in the cockpit. A provision that would have limited the number of armed pilots and create a two year “trial program” was deleted under an amendment by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) that allows all pilots to take the training.

“Our hats are off to courageous leaders in the House, specifically Congressmen Don Young (R-AK) and John Mica (R-FL) for pushing this legislation, and to Rep. DeFazio for his key amendment,” said CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron. “Now we’ve got to support pro-security members in the Senate, who will stand up to the demagoguery of Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC), who has refused to hold hearings on the bill.”

Hollings chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and is steadfastly opposed to arming pilots.

“Between Hollings and anti-gunners like Mineta, Magaw and Ridge, we know that it will be a tough job to get this legislation passed,” Gottlieb said. “That’s why we are calling on our members to pressure their senators to do the right thing for airline safety, and prevent another Sept. 11 from ever happening again.”