September 11th, 2001, was a turning point in American history, and for many people across the country, a day that forever changed their lives. Americans lost loved ones in the initial attacks, and many brave first responders gave their lives, saving those from the rubble during the aftermath.
But 9/11 served as a wake-up call as well. In the wake of the attacks, the Transportation Security Administration was created, and steps were taken to harden security at airports and inside commercial aircraft.
The criticism didn't appear out of thin air either, as undercover probes of TSA by the Department of Homeland Security revealed that in 2015, screeners did not find 95% of weapons, drugs, and explosives being smuggled through airport security. In 2017, it was again reported that TSA continues to fail above 80% of its tests.
While we certainly hope that this number continues to improve, TSA only provides its numbers of firearms found at checkpoints. These "catches" usually happen when gun owners forget their firearms in their carry-on bags.
Additionally, a House Oversight Committee report found that TSA wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on equipment that spends most of its "useful life" in storage. During the investigation for the report, TSA tried to hide its misuse of taxpayer funds by providing "inaccurate, incomplete, and potentially misleading information to Congress in order to conceal the agency's continued mismanagement of warehouse operations."
While the TSA continues to provide "security theatre," Gun Owners of America has ensured that real security measures can be taken by pilots.
The law's passage was an uphill battle that took over a year. From the very beginning, getting guns into airline cockpits was a struggle. The President at the time, George Bush, was only lukewarm to the idea, and the Federal Aviation Administration was flat out opposed to it. Plus ALPA, the largest airline pilots association, was initially against the idea as well.
But thanks to the grassroots support of Gun Owners of America members and pilots nationwide, the bill gained momentum and made its way to the resolute desk.
After the law was passed, initial estimates said that upwards of 30,000 pilots were expected to apply to carry their firearms in the air. In 2008, it was reported that one in 10 pilots carry a firearm in the cockpit. We can only imagine that the number has continued to increase over time.
To this day, pilot carry remains an instrumental part of airline security. It provides pilots with a means of stopping terrorism and defending their aircraft should it come under attack.
So, this year, as we remember 9/11 and those we lost—GOA will continue to fight for the right to keep and bear arms and do whatever part we can to ensure tragedies like 9/11 never happen again.
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