An association of airline pilots says the Transportation Safety Administration is discouraging pilots who want to carry guns by insisting on psychological testing, requiring lockboxes to carry weapons and holding training at a single remote site, the Associated Press reports.
Fewer than 200 passenger airline pilots were trained and deputized to carry a weapon since Congress ordered the program in November.
“We should have thousands, not hundreds,” said Capt. Bob Lambert, president of the Airline Pilots’ Security Alliance, a grass-roots organization with members from all major U.S. airlines.
Lambert spoke at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport during one of several press conferences held by pilots around the country to urge the Bush administration to speed up the program.
John Moran, who heads the program, said it’s meeting the demand.
“The great majority of those who have volunteered will be trained within a year,” Moran said.
Full classes of 48 are booked through the end of September, he said, and the agency plans to double its classes in January.
The government checks pilots’ backgrounds and gives them written psychological tests and interviews to qualify them for a week of classes, weapons instruction and hand-to-hand combat drills before they’re given a gun.