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Pilots with Guns: The Last Line of Defense Against Terrorists?

Recorded on July 30, 2002

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Van Andel Auditorium

On September 11th of last year, nineteen men--armed only with box cutters--were able to take control of four commercial airliners and turn them into devastating weapons of mass destruction. Airport security has been changed and cockpit doors supposedly have been reinforced, but many maintain that there is still no effective means of defending American airliners and their passengers against terrorist attack once they leave the airport, given that relatively few flights have air marshals on board. The Arming Pilots and Cabin Defense Act of 2002 is intended to provide flight crews with the tools to carry out this responsibility. It would permit commercial airline pilots who volunteer to receive special training to have guns in the cockpit as a last line of defense against terrorism. It also provides for the training of flight attendants in self-defense and terrorism prevention and for installing new security equipment on planes. The House passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support but the proposal is still awaiting Senate action and is not without its skeptics. Please join us to hear this distinguished panel of experts discuss - the potential benefits and dangers of this legislation.