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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Pilots Union Requests Deputizing Pilots as Law Officers

Aired September 24, 2001 - 15:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now, our correspondent Patty Davis with some developing, some breaking news -- Patty.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, a so-called "call to arms" by the pilots union representing the nation's pilots that fly the commercial airliners. They are going to be calling on Congress to change the laws to make it possible for pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit.

Now, they say that they have sent a letter to the FBI asking for its recommendation, still waiting to hear from the FBI about -- about all that, the proposal. The FBI, the pilots union says, is considering this. Now, they would become actual law enforcement officials.

According to the pilots union, they say that they need that in order to protect the integrity of the cockpit. They want to go -- undergo extensive practical and classroom training in the use of firearms. They want Congress to change these laws. They're also saying that, you know, this is key in light of the hijackings September 11th, that they are going to be sky marshals added to the air as well. They feel that they need to be protected as well. They want to be able to use firearms: not only last week, they were talking about stun guns. They were directing pilots to use any means, even axes, in the cockpit if the cockpit was compromised.

Now, they are saying they actually want to be armed -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, Patty, a couple of things, just to clarify, this is coming from the pilots themselves, this request for more training and the ability to do that? And second of all, isn't this inevitably going to compromise their ability to focus on what they're doing, to fly that airplane safely?

DAVIS: Well, that's an interesting point, and of course, you're going to have air marshals in the air as well who will be -- who will be watching out for the security as well.

But you know, as early -- as late as last week, the head of the pilots union, Duane Woerth, was saying, "We are not the Wyatt Earps of the sky," and in fact, was kind of leaning against this.

Now, it seems a real change of heart from the pilots, and they're feeling like they really have no choice at this point, that they -- that they feel that this is -- this is really necessary for pilots if they're to maintain the security in the sky and maintain a level of confidence by passengers and pilots.

WOODRUFF: So in effect, they're not -- they're saying they don't or they can't -- they don't feel comfortable trusting the marshals or others who would be stationed on these airplanes, on passenger flights to handle any situation.

DAVIS: Well, the marshals are going to be not on all flights. So I think the pilots are feeling that they want to have a measure of security on each and every flight, and if that means arming pilots on each and every flight, then that's what needs to be done.

Now, the pilots union saying that indeed it would be voluntary on the part of pilots. Not every pilot would have to participate in this, only pilots who want to participate in this. But certainly, a radical change from the pilots union, saying that they not only want to be able to fly, they want to be able to shoot and stop whoever's trying to get in the cockpit.

WOODRUFF: All right, Patty Davis, and we want to emphasize again this is just so far coming from the pilots association. It has not moved to the point of being approved or being enacted. All right, Patty Davis, thanks very much.

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