- The Washington Times - Monday, July 29, 2002

Grannies and Gore
Readers from coast to coast are weighing in on the interview Friday with American Airlines pilot Carmen D. Villani Jr., who flew Flight 77 just days before September 11, and was scheduled to fly it again on Sept. 13, two days after it crashed into the Pentagon.
Mr. Villani, a Virginia Military Institute graduate and Air Force veteran, explained why he is not in favor of arming pilots in the cockpit. Among other points he made was that Israeli airline "El Al has not had a hijacking in 34 years and their pilots are not armed."
The majority of our readers who took the time to write, many of them frequent fliers, favor firearms in the cockpit. Jack Moran of Poquoson, Va., is among them.
"I have begun to see references to gunless El Al cockpits as the logic for prohibiting guns from the cockpits of U.S. airlines," Mr. Moran writes. "I suggest that the two situations are not analogous.
"The U.S. airline system prohibits a major ingredient of the El Al security system, the very one that allows gunless El Al cockpits: profiling passengers," he observes. "The El Al system profiles for possible terrorist passengers; the U.S. system profiles for 80-year-old grandmothers and former vice presidents. We need guns in the cockpit."


Guns with brains

Criminals who use firearms might not have any brains, but the guns they brandish soon could.
We're referring to the prototype of a "smart gun" that is being developed under reported contract with the U.S. government. What's unusual about the weapon is that it can be fired only by its owner.
According to the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, a Belgian company has received some $20 million from the U.S. Justice Department to help develop and test the smart gun.
"The idea is to make a gun fire when the owner wants it to, and not to when the owner doesn't want to," says Robert Sauvage, of the FN Herstal Co., which has a manufacturing branch in the United States.
Production of the gun, currently being tested using the electronic recognition device attached only to the owner, could begin in three years.

Always on the job
Rep. Bill Thomas, California Republican and House Ways and Means Committee chairman, emerged from a meeting with President Bush at the White House on Friday and carefully approached a gaggle of reporters, photographers and TV cameramen who had been staking out the West Wing.
"Watch the wires, please," one journalist shouted to Mr. Thomas as he maneuvered over several TV cables and approached the waiting microphones.
Eyeing the strands of thick wires on the ground, the congressman said: "I don't believe this meets [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standards."


The future continues
He lived every day by the motto: "The Future is Now."
He was the only National Football League coach never to have a losing season over 12 years.
He amassed an amazing NFL record of 118-54-5.
George Allen, unfortunately, isn't alive to celebrate this Saturday, when he will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is to become only the 19th coach ever to receive the honor.
"Dad would always talk about what a great day it is to be alive," Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, recalls in an interview with Inside the Beltway. As the coach's eldest son, Mr. Allen, a former Virginia governor, will travel to Canton, Ohio, this weekend to accept his father's honor on behalf of his family.
"This is obviously a big day and a very emotional day as well," the senator reflects. "I'm giving the speech for my father, actually for my family, and it will be very difficult. Obviously, I wish I could be in the stands watching him, shedding great tears of pride."
And were his father alive today, what might he tell the admiring crowd?
"I know what he would say," Mr. Allen says. "He would say this is a 'team' victory. He would speak of his assistants, his players and my mother."
In fact, the senator says that if given the chance his father would attempt to recognize every assistant he ever coached with and every player he ever coached "before they would pull him off the stage."
"A lot of these coaches and players will be there," adds the senator. "It will be the 'Over-the-Hill Gang' reunion riding again. Dad will be there in spirit, and he will be there in our hearts and memories."
Besides coaching football for several colleges, the elder Mr. Allen was the assistant coach for the Chicago Bears from 1958 to 1965, head coach of the Los Angeles Rams from 1966 to 1970, and head coach of the Washington Redskins from 1971 to 1977.


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