The Transportation Security Administration
(TSA) plans cautious
implementation of the plan to allow
commercial airline pilots to carry guns.
Only 50 pilots will be in the initial program,
according to TSA. Directed last
year by Congress to develop a training
program by the latter part of last
month, TSA had yet to finalize decisions
about other details of the program,
including the exact date training will
begin, how guns will be transported
to airplanes and how pilots will interact
with federal air marshals. TSA plans to
spend $500,000 for an initial program
to start in the next few months. The
initial 50-pilot test phase will last several
weeks before the agency launches
the all out program, according to TSA
spokesman Robert Johnson.
The anti-gun Violence Policy Center
(VPC), which seeks a ban on .50-caliber
rifles, claims that they, along with
armor-piercing ammunition that bursts
into flames on impact, pose a serious
threat to airliners at airports. “This is
not just a gun control issue,” says VPC
senior policy analyst Tom Diaz. “It’s a
national security issue.” John Plaster,
a retired Special Forces officer who
has tutored police snipers, noted that
the rifles were awkward to maneuver,
weighing about 35 pounds. The VPC
is being “very unrealistic,” he says. “I
have never heard of a commercial
plane anywhere in the world that was
seriously damaged while in flight by a
.50-caliber rifle. It’s not by any means
a choice weapon.”
When Attorney General John
Ashcroft gave his first significant report
on Project Safe Neighborhoods, The
Wall Street Journal editorialized that
“gun criminals, and the gun control
lobby, might take notice.” In 2002,
more than 10,600 defendants were
charged with violating federal firearm
statutes, and 93 percent received prison
sentences. Seventy-one percent will
spend three or more years in jail. “This
is important,” according to the Journal,
“because two-thirds of all firearm
crimes are committed by repeat offenders.
These are the people who will
get their hands on illegal weapons no
matter how many thousands of gun
laws are on the books. The Clinton Administration
never grasped this point
and spent its time devising new ways
to keep average citizens from getting
guns, while leaving bad guys on the
Ninety-five percent of respondents
in a viewer poll conducted by the Cybercast
News Service think toy guns
should not be banned. Four percent
think they should and one percent
is not sure. posed the
question on the Internet just last month
after gun grabbers on the New York City
Council moved to ban toy guns. The toy
gun grabbers are bent out of shape by
a Libertarian Party of Manhattan plan
to give away toy guns to children at a
Harlem school. “Playing with a water
pistol is one of the most cherished rites
of childhood,” said Libertarian Party
spokesman Jim Lesczynski. “We want
to give that experience to New York’s
children before the spoilsports in City
Hall take it away permanently.”
“Criminals aren’t going to register
their guns,” says Bruce Hutton, a former
Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer
and founder of the Law-abiding Unregistered
Firearms Association, which has
30,000 members throughout Canada.
Government efforts there to establish
a national firearms registry and licensing
programs to track gun owners and
their guns are meeting with “surprising
broad resistance,” reports Joel Bagnole
from Ottawa in The Wall Street Journal,
“partly because of significant cost overruns
that have turned the program into
a political hot potato.” Hutton says “this
registry will do nothing to stop gun
crimes, murders and suicides in this
In the Philippines, anti-gun President
Macapagal-Arroyo banned the
carrying of guns by civilians and
off-duty police and military in public
places and suspended indefinitely the
issuance to civilians of gun licenses
and permits to carry firearms. Gunless
Society Founder and President Nandy
Pacheco praised the move as being
“for the common good.” The Peaceful,
Responsible Owners of Guns (PROGUN)
group announced it will question the
directive in court and vowed to conduct
mass actions. Rep. Augusto Syjuco of
Iloilo said the President’s order “leaves
law-abiding citizens defenseless