BELLEVUE, WA – Having been first to call for the arming of commercial pilots following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) today applauded President Bush for signing the Homeland Security Legislation that contains language to arm the nation’s pilots.

“The overwhelming support for this program has been truly remarkable,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “While various interest groups have disagreed on other aspects of Homeland Security, arming commercial pilots is one issue on which almost everyone immediately concurred, and we’re proud that so many diverse organizations followed our lead and supported this measure.”

CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron added, “It is always a question mark, whether there may be armed air marshals on every airplane, but there is no doubt that each jetliner leaving the ground has a pilot and co-pilot aboard. Armed pilots are, as we have said since first calling for this measure, a critical ‘last line of defense’ against the kind of terrorist atrocity that occurred on 9/11.”

The program is strictly voluntary, and pilots will go through approved training before they actually carry firearms into the cockpit. Pilots who choose not to fly armed will not be required to do so. The concept has been supported by major airline pilots’ associations, which were quick to agree with the CCRKBA proposal.

“It has never made sense,” Gottlieb observed, “that the handful of hysterical critics of this idea felt that pilots lack the skills to defend an aircraft, when they quite obviously have the skills to fly one. Fortunately, the American public recognized this contradiction, and so has Congress and President Bush.”

“Looking back,” Waldron recalled, “it should seem no coincidence to anyone that the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was first to call for armed pilots. We’ve said for years that the most effective tool against violent criminals is an armed citizen who knows how and when to use a firearm in defense of himself, the people around him, and now even the airplane he commands. You can bet the only people who really dislike the idea of armed pilots are the terrorist cowards who always prefer unarmed victims.”