Airline pilots get NRA to publicly support new firearms provision

Washington: The National Rifle Association (NRA) is throwing its

considerable PR weight behind the push to arm America's commercial

airline pilots.

The NRA's EVP Wayne LaPierre said his organization decided to fight for

the controversial measure, a result of the September 11 attacks, only

after receiving pleas from airline pilots themselves. "We were besieged

by telephone calls from pilots asking for our help," he said. "They felt

like they were out there alone and that everybody's overlooking them in

all this."

The NRA has since devoted a great deal of effort to the cause. LaPierre

estimated he has done 50 press interviews on the topic, and NRA magazine

1st Freedom - which goes to all four million members - features a cover

story on the subject in this month's issue.

"This field is already one of the most highly trained and disciplined of

any job field in the US," said LaPierre. "We are trusting them with

$50 million to $100 million aircraft and 300 lives every

time they take off. It seems the least we can do is trust them with the

opportunity to have a firearm as a last resort in defending themselves

and their passengers."

LaPierre noted that his group is not specifically endorsing any of the

various bills regarding the topic circulating on Capitol Hill. "They all

get to the same objective in different ways," he said.

The NRA was ranked the most influential lobbying force in Washington by

Fortune magazine this year, and spends anywhere from $50 million

to $100 million on PR and advertising each year.

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