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Fighting terror

Plan for arming some pilots unveiled

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 20, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Commercial pilots who want to carry guns in the cockpit would have to undergo psychological and background checks before being selected for a five-day training program under a plan announced Wednesday by the Transportation Security Administration.

The first group of 48 pilots could begin training in a month, the agency said.

It said the plan is preliminary and could change before Tuesday's deadline for the agency to issue rules for the program, which was approved by Congress last year.

The plan calls for the training to include marksmanship, lessons on legal policies and defensive tactics, agency spokesman Robert Johnson said.

After completing training, pilots would be issued a .40-caliber, semiautomatic pistol and given authority to have the weapon with them only when they're flying a commercial aircraft, Johnson said.

When going to and from the airport, they would be required to carry the holstered weapon inside a locked case inside a bag so no one could tell they had a gun, he said.

Also . . .

SOLDIER INJURED: A U.S. soldier was injured in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday when the military vehicle he was traveling in struck a land mine, the U.S. military said. The right foot of the soldier, who was not identified, was blown off.

DETAINEES TRY SUICIDE: Three more terror suspects have attempted suicide at the U.S. detention center in Cuba in the past week, lifting the total to 19, the Pentagon said Wednesday. There are about 650 detainees at the U.S. Naval base. The three were treated and returned to their cells.

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