Senate removes requirement for pilots to carry firearms on flights

Posted: Sunday, April 29, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- If the state Senate has its way, pilots on small planes flying in Alaska will no longer be required to carry firearms as part of their emergency gear.

The state House last month approved legislation allowing pilots to leave their guns home if they planned flights into Canada. That country tightened gun laws this year and now requires Americans carrying guns into Canada to register them and pay a fee.

The Senate removed the gun requirement entirely.

''This leaves the decision to carry a firearm at the pilot's discretion,'' said Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome. ''The pilot after all is the pilot in command, the ultimate authority, and the best person to judge the appropriateness of carrying a firearm.''

House Bill 127 makes other changes in pilots' emergency equipment packages. They would be required to carry one week's rations for each person on board rather than two; an assortment of fishing gear rather than a small gill net; ''fire starter'' rather than matches; and a wool blanket or something comparable for each person on board in winter.

Pilots would continue to be required to pack an ax or a hatchet, a first-aid kit, a knife, a mosquito headnet for each person on board, signaling devices, and in winter, snowshoes and a sleeping bag.

The measure now returns to the House for consideration of Senate changes to the bill.

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