A gun was fired in the cockpit and so was the pilot. In March 2008, on a flight from Denver to Charlotte, US Airways pilot Jim Langenhahn’s gun discharged, an action taken by his employer shortly after. Now that his 18-month disciplinary suspension is over, he’s back in training and getting ready to take to the friendly skies. The Associated Press didn’t mention whether the current program involves targets.
A federal arbitrator’s decision is what’s leading to Langenhahn’s reinstatement, but he won’t be allowed to pack heat on board. He was strapped in 2008 because of a 2002 federal law that permits pilots to carry handguns onto the plane – as long as they complete a Transportation Security Administration program that includes a week of weapons training. The law was passed following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
Support from the US Airways pilots’ union helped, along with a Department of Homeland Security position that found the holsters pilots used to be faulty. The holsters, DHS found, increased the likelihood of an accidental discharge.
Thanks to a Senate vote on Wednesday, Amtrak is a step closer to becoming the nation’s gun-friendly travel alternative. The proposal was approved by a vote of 68 to 30 and would allow passengers to take firearms with them on trains – as long as they declare that they are doing so. The firearms also have to be unloaded and locked in a container.
Of course, Amtrak is, so to speak, being held at gunpoint on this bill. If it does not change its gun policy, the railroad would lose its $1.6 billion government subsidy, thanks to some wheeling and dealing by Mississippi’s Senator Roger Wicker.
The current policy, which prohibits travel with weapons, was implemented following the terror attacks on Madrid‘s passenger trains in 2004. Wicker cites the importance of second amendment rights in pushing for the change in policy.
Opponents of the bill say that it would be too costly to allow firearms on trains, particularly since Amtrak doesn’t have the security measures and equipment in place to manage the change. Putting it into place would be too expensive.
A House version of the bill, which passed, doesn’t include the gun measures, and the two proposals have yet to be reconciled.