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News & Editorials



September 12, 2001

Dr. Ignatius Piazza
Fax: 831.684.2137


LAS VEGAS, NEVADA: In the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack, Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, which claims to be the world leader in providing intensified courses in the defensive use of firearms for private citizens and law enforcement alike, feels they have the answer to stopping commercial airliners from being used as ballistic missiles. Front Sight will train every commercial pilot in the world FREE OF CHARGE in the defensive use of the handgun. Front Sight will accept for training all certified pilots and co-pilots from all commercial airliners that submit a request for training on commercial airliner letterhead, designating the pilot and co-pilot to carry a handgun in the cockpit to defend access to the airliner. The request for training letter must have the notarized signature of the airline's chief executive.

Front Sight's Founder and Director, Dr. Ignatius Piazza understands that his offer may offend those who lack resolve in stopping terrorists from turning airliners into weapons of mass destruction. However, he is quick to point out that the World Trade Center attack is a new realm of terror, not previously witnessed in the world. Prior to the World Trade Center attack, terrorists were content to hijack planes and divert them to safe landings in exchange for negotiated release of imprisoned comrades. In extreme cases, terrorists have committed suicide by exploding the grounded plane. Airliners have also been targeted with bombs and possibly missiles to spectacularly explode in flight, killing all on board. The World Trade Center attack was a new form of terrorism, where the commercial airliner, loaded with fuel for a cross country flight is redirected from the cockpit and turned into an accurate missile of mass destruction. Front Sight knows this form of terrorism can be stopped immediately by arming all pilots and co-pilots and training them in the proper methods of defending their cockpits.

"Commercial airliners must be willing to take an uncompromising stand that will not allow anyone, under any circumstances to access the controls of an airliner," says Piazza. "The pilot and co-pilot, are responsible for the security of the cockpit. Without a handgun to defend it, the cockpit crew is easily defeated. However, when both pilot and co-pilot are armed and trained by Front Sight, they have the tools, ability, and will to defend themselves and repel the murderous intent of terrorists. In an emergency, the pilot can fly the plane to a safe landing while the co-pilot covers the door of the cockpit- ready and willing to use deadly force to prevent anyone from opening the door."

Dennis Vied, a retired TWA Captain with 28 years of experience flying commercial airliners and Front Sight student fully agrees with Front Sight's solution. Captain Vied states, "The terrorists knew that they would face no opposition to the hijacking, once they managed to get on the airplane. All they had to do was threaten to do something to a passenger, and they would be allowed access to the cockpit. If that didn't work, then they just had to hurt somebody, which in this case they did. Apparently they cut the throats of two of the flight attendants. The terrorists knew they would face no armed opposition, because the airline screening process would insure that nobody on the airplane would be armed. We have such an abhorrence to guns that we fail to allow the good people to arm themselves for defense. Therefore they are at the mercy of bad people- in this case the terrorists. I sincerely hope that this is a wakeup call to America. I think they should arm the crews, or at least allow those that want to be armed to do so. Otherwise, you're at the mercy of some crazy son-of-a-bitch armed with a box cutter! How absolutely absurd! There is so much emphasis on prevention, and precious little emphasis on the ultimate lines of defense."

Aaron Benedetti, a United Airline 747 co-pilot since 1990 is a Platinum member at Front Sight and has already attended Front Sight courses in defensive handgun, tactical shotgun, and practical rifle. Through Front Sight's training, Benedetti is ready, willing and able to defend the cockpit of his aircraft if given the proper tools and authority to do so. Benedetti states, "We get recurrent training regarding hijacking and security procedures, but the training centers around placating and negotiating with the terrorists to safely land the plane. We are told not to make any aggressive move and to work toward a calm outcome. The World Trade Center disaster is a real blind spot in our training. The attack reveals that perhaps the only way the pilots could have stopped it would have been to deny access to the cockpit and stop the terrorists from taking over the controls of the plane by any means possible. In the future, we should consider that with the cockpit doors locked and the co-pilot guarding the door with a handgun, calm negotiations can still take place via intercom to land the plane safely thus avoiding another World Trade Center scenario." Aaron Benedetti recommends all airlines to take advantage of Front Sight's solution and offer. He returns to Front Sight later his year for further training on his own.

Lieutenant Bob Redmond, SWAT Commander of Nye County Sheriff's Department concurs that Front Sight's training is exactly what the commercial airliners need and that they should immediately begin sending their pilots to Front Sight. Redmond, who sends his SWAT officers to Front Sight for firearms and tactical training states, "Front Sight's training exceeds levels offered by most if not all law enforcement agencies throughout the country. Front Sight's training is so good that I want every officer we have in the department to attend every course Front Sight offers. If airlines sent their pilots to Front Sight, it would be like having SWAT officers in the sky."

Mark Donovan, a pilot for Southwest Airlines, who has taken over ten Front Sight courses in the last two years finds the current situation of unarmed pilots rather incredulous. Donavan explains, "The political climate in commercial aviation prior to the World Trade Center attack has not been conducive to arming pilots. In fact, just the opposite has occurred. Airlines have disarmed pilots to the point where a terrorist with a box cutter can take over control of a plane because no one is armed to defend the plane or themselves. Yet, numerous federal agencies are allowed to carry a gun on commercial airlines, including such dubiously qualified agencies as, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, and the Smithsonian Institution! Why are federal agents from these obscure agencies allowed to carry a gun on board when a pilot with firearms training from Front Sight Firearms Training Institute is not allowed? My training at Front Sight far exceeds anything the federal government offers to these agencies." Donovan continues, "If we, as pilots are not given the means and authority to defend our aircraft as a last means of defense, then who will? It is apparent that time was not available to negotiate with the madmen in the World Trade Center attack. Clearly, a properly trained flight crew with a handgun could have saved countless lives. Front Sight offers this training. I urge all federal decision makers to seriously examine Front Sight's solution to the problem. I believe it is the only credible answer to stopping another horrendous tragedy." Front Sight is the Solution to Gun Violence

Piazza reiterates, "Front Sight is truly part of the solution to gun violence in this country. Everyone agrees that law enforcement should have the very best training available. Front Sight provides it. And everyone agrees, regardless of what side of gun control one stands, that if law abiding private citizens are going to own firearms they should be trained. Front Sight provides such training to levels that exceeds the law enforcement community. Front Sight now offers the solution to stopping and forever preventing another World Trade Center attack by training commercial airline pilots to be that last line of defense for their passengers, airline, and our country. Front Sight stands ready, willing, and able to serve."

Dr. Ignatius Piazza
Front Sight Firearms Training Institute

Captain Dennis Vied, retired TWA Pilot
(925) 455.0133

Aaron Benedetti, United Airlines Co-Pilot
(925) 454.5214

Lt. Bob Redmond, Nye County SWAT Commander
(775) 751.7002

Mark Donovan, SouthWest Pilot
(702) 270.3912


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