It's a Good Day to Die - September 7, 2002
By Jeffrey Bennett
|JEFFREY BENNETT, EDITOR|
"In the beginning of a change, the Patriot is a scarce man and brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a Patriot."
- Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
If the Heavenly Father should choose to call me home this day, no one can say that I haven't been involved with the fight. And on this day, we have come out the victor in a major battle with the United States of America, Inc., for by this hour on Thursday night, the United States Senate voted in favor of Senate Bill (SB) 2554, commonly known as Arming Pilots Against Terrorism and Cabin Defense Act of 2002.
Three days after the attacks of September 11th, 2001 The Federal Observer, in conjunction with Armed Females of America posted the petition, which would ultimately lead to victory to restore a commercial airline pilot's right to be armed in defense of his aircraft, his crew and ultimately - his passengers. Three hundred and fifty-nine days after our modern "Day of Infamy", this second leg of our battle for America has been won - now onto the President's desk. In less than one year - with the work, which we had begun - we have witnessed victory with the help, efforts and assistance of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance - an organization, which did not exist until after our petition came along.
As a member of the advisory board for Armed Females of America, on September 12th I contacted Dennis Jackson to seek his assistance in co-authoring what would become the final petition for publication. Not only is he a good friend - but he is an avid 2nd Amendment supporter - and a professional commercial airline pilot to boot. Wow! How spectacular - he flies and shoots too! What a novel concept!
When we attempted to enlist the aid of people around the country, who specialized in such projects to assist us in drafting a petition, getting it up on-line and publicizing it through their vast networks - we were told point blank that first, we would need to cough-up $3,000.00 to establish the account, in addition to paying ongoing administrative costs to manage the petition - but more importantly - they had no interest due to the fact that another (unrelated) petition was currently being promoted by their firm, and therefore they had no interest in assisting us with our endeavor. Strangely enough, the individual in Nevada who told us the aforementioned, posted a similar 'Arm Pilots' petition within three weeks of our conversation.
Enter our personal web-master, Robin Hanus with the answer, which we had been looking for. Unlike other 'professionals' who wanted to micro-manage the account by forwarding each signature to the applicable Senator or Congressman, Robin suggested that we control and maintain 'ownership' of each signature to our petition - thereby eventually allowing us to submit all signed petitions en-masse to the appropriate parties - whichever representatives of government would be applicable. This is the choice, which Dennis and I made - and a wise one it was. (It later turned out that the two elected officials who would ultimately sponsor related Bills, would be Congressman Ron Paul of Texas and Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire - both of whom had strong relations with Gun Owners of America.)
On September 14, 2001, when we first posted the petition on-line at The Federal Observer, our daily publication was but seven weeks old and the Armed Females of America site was two days away from being active.
Due to my daily radio program, Perspectives on America I was able to extend our 'invitation to sign the petition' to our short-wave ('oh my god - a right wing-whacko!') audience, thereby spreading the word nationally - and even internationally. We had people from Canada and England who wanted on board this train as well. Sorry - but we knew that their signatures would go unrecognized in the hallowed halls of the United States Congress - so we had to decline their participation.
Step one accomplished! How do we spread the word?
"Even if pilots and their crew were trained in firearms safety and use, appropriate use of force and shoot/don't shoot scenarios, it is difficult to imagine that their competence could approach that of trained law enforcement personnel."
- Brady Campaign & Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Letter to the DOT during the public comment period for Firearms, Less-than-lethal Weapons on Commercial Aircraft.
Six choices were initially made over the first weeks:
Joseph Farah, Editor and Publisher never bothered to respond to our repeated attempts for assistance in promoting the Arm the Pilots petition as was available through our 'insignificant' web-sites. In addition, then one of his writers, Jon Dougherty (who would write prolifically about the issue for many months) also chose not to respond to our attempts to enlighten him in regards to our dilemma.
2. News Max.com
Christopher J. Ruddy (who is the Editor, but may not be the Publisher), like Joseph Farah, also chose to ignore our repeated attempts to contact him in regards to the same matter - even though News Max, as was World Net Daily, publishing articles in support of this same issue - arming the pilots. Attempts to reach associate editors at News Max also proved to be an exercise in futility.
3. The National Rifle Association
Captain Jackson contacted this - the largest gun lobby organization in the world - to seek their support for this important petition. Surely with their three (or is it four now?) million members of Second Amendment supporting, card carrying, over-tapped members - we would find support for this endeavor? Fat chance Jack. Their response - in effect was - that 'this' was too politically charged an issue and they could not afford (?) to become involved. It was not until many months later, when their membership began to grumble - loudly - that the oligarchy at the NRA chose to voice their opinion in favor of the measure.
4. Gun Owners of America (GOA)
Captain Jackson, having a direct involvement with Armed Females of America sent Larry Pratt, Executive Director for the "only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington" an email requesting assistance and no response whatsoever was ever received. Sammo-sammo? Could be! Ultimately, GOA purportedly formed an alliance with Front Sight and later posted a petition of their own (GOA) on the Gun Owners web-site in support of arming pilots. Still no acknowledgment of the work, which we had pioneered.
Days after the GOA post, I received a link from one of my contacts in Georgia informing me of the action taken by GOA, and frankly she was quite shocked. She could not understand why one organization - allegedly working towards the same end as we - would not get behind the existing endeavor - after all - there is strength in unity - isn't there?.
As relates to Front Sight, we wish to commend them - for they were among the first to openly take a stand in favor of arming the pilots - even to the extent of offering Free Training to any pilot in need of same.
In addition, Jeff Johnson of CNS News, although probably unaware of our petition, continued to write favorably about this important issue. It is our fault for probably not contacting him and seeking the assistance of his fine (on-line) publication - but his voice was obviously heard. Great job Jeff.
5. Air Line Pilot's Association
Immediately, contact was made with Jerry Wright, a representative of this 'prestigious' Pilot's Union with what should have been the obvious - massive support from those who are most responsible for the safety of craft, cargo, passengers and crew - the pilots themselves. The answer was a resounding 'No!'. ALPA was committed to the insanity of governmental control - and their chief muckity-muck - President Duane Woerth(less), within days after the attacks - was to have his say-so on Capitol Hill in preliminary hearings. In reading the text of Mr. Woerth's speech before CON-gress - he nary mentioned arming pilot's - other than with stun guns.
|AIRLINE PILOTS SECURITY ALLIANCE|
However, as the weeks rolled on - and word of 'the petition' began to spread throughout the nation - pressure was beginning to build within ALPA by its members to support the position of the petition (by now, word was getting around via the underground, I guess - well - at least the email route) - so Mr. Woerth got his 15 minutes of fame on national television (via C-SCAM). Well, he must have had a cigar positioned up his ample posterior, 'cause he was sure blowing smoke - and I mean a lot of it! He hemmed and hawed around, but finally had to (hesitatingly) submit to the apparent will of his union members, because in time he agreed - in theory - to support such a measure - if it ever came before Congress - but he still wasn't supporting or acknowledging 'the petition'. And now that it's over - just what do you think he has had to say? Need me to draw you a map? Of course he was for it all along.
6. Keep and Bear Arms.com
Angel Shamaya was the only one of our initial contacts, who saw and realized the importance of what we were attempting to accomplish with our petition. He understood that this was more than a pilot's issue, an airline issue - it was a matter of common sense - for the safety and security of We the People - who fly commercial airlines in this nation each and every day. Angel knew and understood that, as many years ago, properly trained pilots - proficient in the use of firearms - had always acted as a deterrent to hijackers and those wishing to cause harm to others in the air. Angel immediately posted an article on his KABA web-site and a link to the petition - a petition, which was there for ALL to sign - airline professional and 'civilians' alike. Thanks Angel - you are a true American.
Two additional contacts were made during this time period. We knew well of the pro-second amendment stands of two prominent Washington legislators, Congressman Ron Paul (TX) and Senator Bob Smith (NH). We also had begun to hear of rumors, that each of them had proposals in the works to present to their respective houses of Congress. We had no idea of when, nor what kind of support that they might have. but by late October 2001, we had nearly 5,000 signatures and had no idea of what to do with them. After all, we were amateurs at this, comparatively speaking. Smith seemed to be moving more rapidly with his version, but that would later bog down for the time being. Paul was the last chance in DC that we could think of, but I was apprehensive. Dennis made the call, only to be told that, while Congressman Paul would be presenting the Bill in the House of Representatives, it was in fact "a Junior Congressman from another state who would be writing the Bill". Some weeks later we were contacted by a representative in Congressman Paul's office regarding our signed petitions - they now indeed wanted them, as they were prepared to carry them into the House of Representatives for a complete presentation - along with "Congressman Paul's" Bill. We had forty-eight hours to transmit - electronically or otherwise - all signed petitions. It was only a matter of weeks afterwards that GOA posted their version of an arm pilots petition. The contact at Representative Paul's office that requested the data was Anna Marie Pratt, daughter of the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America.
No accusations are being made in the above statement - just the facts ma'am!
It had now been approximately two months since the attacks of terrorism on American soil and against her people and government. We felt good - but not great. A scant 5,452 signatures had been gathered in the joint effort of The Federal Observer and Armed Females of America. Still, I guess that it wasn't bad for a couple of unknowns - babes-in-the-woods, so to speak. Little did we know that a major shift in the wind was about to join the battle.
Executive Decision: November 2001
During the previous two months, many fans within the airline industry were being made by the co-sponsors of the now passed on petition. Many of them had signed the petition. A Leadership Team, comprised of several of those fans was coming together to form a new organization, to be known as the Airline Pilots Security Alliance (APSA). The team consisted of commercial airline pilots, Bob Guida, Tracy Price, Scott Lewis and others.
If memory serves me correctly, it was Bob Guida who first contacted me (at the suggestion of fellow-pilot, Dennis Jackson) in regards to the work, which had recently been turned over to Congressman Paul's office. APSA had an idea and wanted to know if we would work with them. The wanted to pick up the ball and move forward with it. Unflinchingly, the answer was yes.
Recall that earlier in this commentary (or diatribe if you wish), I had stated that APSA was an organization, which had not existed until some months after our petition came into existence. I would like to think that maybe our voice had something to do with helping them to form their voice. To make a long story (and it has been) shorter - the unbelievable team at APSA has had their finger on the pulse of this magical story almost from the beginning. And now the journey is nearly at an end. My contact throughout the entire past ten months has been Tracy Price. He has never kept Captain Jackson or myself (read: Armed Females of America nor The Federal Observer) out of the loop. The feeling has been mutual that a job needed to be done and each of us needed one another (as organizations and as individuals). That is what it takes in America to get the job done. That is what it took over two and one-quarter centuries ago as we fought our battles for freedom and liberty.
As a veteran broadcaster on World Wide Christian Radio, I have openly fought the battles of the downtrodden in this nation. I have told the story of our American Heritage as I have attempted to remind our audience of the richness of our past. I have witnessed Patriots become depressed and suppressed by an omnipotent, all-powerful government, who has openly violated the will of the people. I have stood in shock as I witnessed Pay-triots, like a television or radio "Evangalist" - pass the collection plate far too often "for Jesus". I have subsequently watched families and businesses be totally destroyed for lack of knowledge - or due to the inability of peoples to work together for the common good.
Why, with so many attempted contacts to garner support for our petition to 'Arm the Pilots' of our commercial airlines - why did the two major so-called alternative American Web-Papers refuse to acknowledge the only petition designed to force government to do the right thing? And why did the two most widely recognized Second Amendment Lobby Organizations in the world, either completely ignore us or in effect tell us to go "pi$$ up a rope"?
Consider the '$$' in the previous sentence. I believe that egos get in the way. In other words, could it be that these organizations choose not to get involved with matters such as these - unless the idea originated with them in the first place? Maybe, in the case of the lobby organizations - if it isn't their idea - they can't milk their members for donations for the ever-so important battles, which lie ahead - whatever they may be. As a thirty plus year Life Member of one of these two organizations, I would like to have the money that has been spent to send me requests for "much needed financial assistance" so that the waters of freedom and liberty could be parted. The only thing that they were parting with was someone's much needed money.
As for Mr. Farah's publication - in my opinion, it is no longer the same hard-hitting WebPaper, which it was just two years ago. Although Joe is an excellent writer and has many excellent writers on his staff, specifically Jon Dougherty and Joel Miller - the publication has gone too much 'Rush Limbaugh' for my money. Ruddy? I know someone well who knows his story - and I ain't telling - it would serve no purpose here.
Many people wrote of the progress in the two houses of Congress in many publications across the nation about this issue. But writing about it and being involved with making it happen are two different things. Lip service and action are two horses of a different color. It is time that we remove the cigars from our posteriors and stop blowing so much smoke up each other’s skirts. It's time to find the common ground and work toward it - and act upon it. We must remain watchmen on the wall to insure that we are able to provide a place of security for our children and grandchildren - a place where freedom and liberty have meaning. A place where people, who have never met and never crossed paths before - can unite for the common good - for all. My “friends”, and I have done this - united. Thanks Dennis, Bob, Tracy and the rest of you - yes even those who participated in the signing of the said petition. We did it together - against overwhelming odds and no (conscious) help from any leg of the media or lobby organizations. The people have spoken - it's now up to our elected officials to act according to the will of the people.
"And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, 'Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, and your wives, and your houses.'" - Nehemiah 4:14
~ Endnotes ~
Why do I write of these issues, these organizations and publications? Is it to complain? Bennett, what are you looking for? A pat on the back? Credit? Money? What? The answer is; none of the above. A 'pat on the back' for what? Planting a seed, which was cultivated, watered, tilled and harvested by others? I never did any of it for credit - I did it because it had to be done - because it my duty to serve this land that I love. Maybe my days on this earth have been here for this one single purpose - this one moment in time. Nearly fifty-five years on God's Little Acre (sorry Caldwell) has been spent waiting for this one single moment, where I could be a part of influencing government legislation. Peggy Lee once sang, Is that all there is? - that's enough for me. To stand at His gate and have Him say - "Well done!". Yeah, if he's ready for me - it's good day to die.
The combined efforts of Armed Females of America, The Federal Observer and ultimately APSA got the ball rolling in this effort to get the job done. It looks like we near the end of our journey - but if you think that it ends here and we can go back to bed for another long winter's nap - you have another thing coming - for it is our job to be vigilant - ever vigilant. It took us less than twelve months to come this far, yet there are those in Congress who will still try to destroy this in joint committee before it ever reaches President Bush's desk - and when it does reach his desk - I'd like to be there to witness it.
I'll see you in the cabin Dennis.
Without Apology I am,