Budget cut in half for Federal Flight Deck Officer program which arms commercial pilots.

President Barack Obama's budget ax is falling hard on a…

President Barack Obama’s budget ax is falling hard on a program that allows pilots to carry handguns in the cockpit as a last line of defense against terrorists.

Obama’s proposed 2013 budget cuts in half funds for the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program. The current budget of $25 million a year — which goes for such things as conducting background checks, training the pilots, and periodic gun proficiency tests and retraining, in addition to administrative costs — would be cut to $12 million.

The thousands of armed pilots, who greatly outnumber the better-known federal air marshals, volunteer for the job, train at federal academies and are deputized to use their weapons in the cockpit. They call themselves the “single most cost-effective counter-terrorism measure” the government has taken.

The federal government spends about $15 a flight for FFDOs, as armed pilots are called, compared to $3,000 per flight for federal air marshals, said Mike Karn, vice president of the Federal Flight Deck Officers Association. Those numbers are based on costs of the respective programs divided by the number of flights covered by armed pilots and air marshals.

Source: Mike M. Ahlers for CNN.

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