Information Concerning the Arming of Commercial Pilots

GAO-02-822R: Published: Jun 28, 2002. Publicly Released: Jul 2, 2002.

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Gerald Dillingham, Ph.D.
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Office of Public Affairs
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Although pilots and other crew members are currently prohibited from carrying weapons on-board aircraft, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act raises the possibility of arming pilots in the future. In responses to a congressional request, GAO provided information on reasons for and against allowing pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit; questions to be addressed if pilots were armed; and possible alternatives to arming pilots, such as providing them with less than lethal weapons. Proponents' and opponents' views on firearms in the cockpit fall into four categories: the potential effectiveness, risk, and cost-effectiveness of pilots carrying weapons, and policy issues that would arise if pilots were allowed to carry weapons. GAO concluded that without additional research, the potential benefits, risks, and costs of using weapons on aircraft cannot be fully determined.

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