More Guns in the Air

The number of armed pilots has grown even larger than the air marshals program

In his State of the Union address, President Bush singled out federal air marshals--undercover armed agents who fly on U.S. airlines--for helping make "our homeland safer." But he neglected to mention a flying security force that has quietly grown even larger than the marshals: the nation's pilots.

Two years ago, the Federal Flight Deck Officer program began training pilots who wanted to carry guns on flights to protect the cockpit. Aviation sources tell TIME that more than 4,000 pilots are authorized to carry guns, and each day they fly armed on more flights than do air marshals. The gun-toting pilots, who...

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