BELLEVUE, Wash. — Having been first to call for the arming of commercial airline pilots just hours after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) today hailed passage of legislation in the U.S. Senate that will allow guns in the cockpit.

“This landmark legislation will provide a last line of defense for flight crews and passengers,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “The time for airline security half-measures passed the moment that first plane hit the Twin Towers one year ago. American travelers have a right to feel safe, and flight crews have a right to defend themselves and their airplanes.”

The Senate bill passed 87-6, and was attached to legislation aimed at creating a new Cabinet agency to combat terrorism within U.S. borders. In July, the House passed a bill 310-113 that would create a firearms training program for pilots who volunteer as special deputies.

CCRKBA’s call for armed pilots was answered within days of the attack, with the introduction of the first of several aviation security bills. Other organizations, most notably the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, Air Line Pilots Association and Air Travelers Association, quickly followed CCRKBA’s lead in pushing for armed pilots.

“Volunteer pilots, who go through approved training, can provide one more layer of security against the kind of terrorist outrage that occurred last year,” Gottlieb said. “There may not be an air marshal on every flight, but you can bet every airplane has a pilot. Obviously, public sentiment and political momentum overwhelmingly support this idea, and it should become law.”

CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron, meanwhile, congratulated the Bush Administration’s policy reversal on armed pilots. He said a proposal to arm about 1,400 pilots in a “test program” is a good first step, but he hopes that program expands rapidly to allow all pilots the option of being trained and flying armed.

“If we are truly going to have safety in the skies, then we must allow all flight crews the choice of flying armed to provide a critical last line of defense against terrorists,” Waldron stated.