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apr 02 2008

Security: Should pilots pack heat?

About 9,500 commercial pilots have legal permission to carry .40 caliber semi-automatic pistols in-flight. The Transportation Safety Administration says that pilots must past a week-long training course to have permission to carry a firearm in a cockpit. The agency expects to expand the program, allowing about 16 percent of pilots to carry firearms.

The statistic was dug up by USA Today.

About 40 readers commented on our earlier report about armed air marshals being added to transatlantic flights.

Here are some of the comments:

As a flight attendant I say HECK YES to air marshal's and to personal information being accessed. The public doesn't hear 1/4 of the stuff that happens on airplanes. Remember it is for your safety!—A Fletche

I spent 26 years as a Federal Law Enforcement Agent flying around the country armed. I've flown on numerous flights with multiple armed Federal Agents (and Air Marshals) and I can assure you that the Captain and Crew WELCOME us with open arms. If THEY feel more secure, why shouldn't you, a traveler who logs much LESS time in the air than them? There are also armed cockpit members on several flights each and every day now. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear from "your" government. Get a grip on reality and realize that the world has changed! As a whole we HAVE to provide greater security for the public who should be CLAMORING to demand it.—Dave Clark

I would rather be armed myself -- I KNOW what I can do with a weapon, but I'm not convinced of what the U.S. Marshall can/could do with his should terrorists attempt to take over the aircraft. Oh, did I mention I'm an armed (and qualified) Security Officer, ex-Deputy Sheriff and retired U.S. Army?—R.L. Prasuhn, SSG, USA (Ret.)

I don't feel secure with an armed and gung ho loose cannon with me in a sealed and pressurized box 40000 feet above the ground. Having the right to shoot they will shoot first and 9 out of 10 times find out later that they had shot an innocent and that their trained and augmented suspicion and paranoia had deceived them. ...Security begins and ends on the ground. if nothing gets on the plane then the passengers are safe.—Edmund Worrell

Of course we are safer when an Air Marshal is on board a flight. Don't stop with transatlantic flights. Any double aisle aircraft presents a greater danger as a misssile than the smaller plans. They should be everywhere and nowhere so we can all sleep sounder. The diversity and blending techniques used by the air marshals mean they could be anywhere on the plane, even next to you.—John B

Do you feel safer if your pilot is armed?

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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