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TSA head approves recommended cockpit gun rules

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Pilots on U.S. commercial airlines could be carrying guns within months after a task force made recommendations on how to go about arming pilots. CNN's Patty Davis reports (February 20)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The head of the Transportation Security Administration Adm. James Loy, accepted Tuesday, all of the recommendations made by a task force on how airline pilots should be armed and trained.

The task force recommended last week pilots and co-pilots receive 48 hours of training to use 40-caliber semi-automatic pistols. They would also be required to undergo background checks and psychological testing to ensure they would use the weapons effectively in a crisis.

The guns would have to be carried in a holster during flight, and pilots would only be able to use them to defend the cockpit -- they would not be allowed to use them in the cabin. That job would be reserved for air marshals.

To transport the guns to and from the plane, pilots would first have to put the weapon in a lockbox, and then put the lockbox in a non-descript bag.

According to the Air Line Pilots Association, several thousand pilots have applied for training to use firearms. However, the TSA said last week only 48 would be given the training initially. Training could begin as early as March.

Congress passed legislation allowing pilots to carry firearms last year. The move was part of a greater push for increased security in commercial aviation in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Airlines have also taken steps to strengthen cockpit doors to prevent hijackers from gaining access to the flight controls, and thousands of air marshals are deployed to protect passengers in flight.

Airport security has also been beefed up with additional screening of passengers and bags. And earlier this month, the TSA ordered airports to institute random inspections of vehicles approaching terminal buildings.

Patty Davis contributed to this report

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