The bill introduced this week by Mica and Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, could deputize pilots as federal agents. That would give them the same liability protection as undercover air marshals.
But some committee members said they were worried that hijackers might simply grab a pilot's gun. "I would not want a terrorist to get hold of a captain's weapon," said Rep. Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat.
Boeing safety expert Ronald Hinderberger said the risk of loss of an aircraft due to a stray round from a handgun is very slight -- although there was a remote chance of a fire or explosion "given an unfortunate placement of shots and combination of conditions."
"Boeing commercial service history contains cases of gunfire on board in-service airplanes, all of which landed safely," he said.
But Henry Krakowski, a United Airlines captain and vice president for safety at the carrier, urged officials to approve a leading stun gun, TASER, saying United had tested the weapons in cockpits and trained about a third of its pilots to use them.
He had been stunned by a TASER in a hotel room the night before, Krakowski said. "It was absolutely debilitating."
NYC Kids Still Suffered, 6 months after Sept. 11
N E W Y O R K, May 2 — Some admitted they had trouble sleeping. Others said they feared leaving the house. Most found their minds wandering back to images of burning towers and the horror.
Nine out of 10 New York City schoolchildren suffered at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress six months after Sept. 11, and almost 10 percent likely had the disorder, according to a study released Wednesday.
Mental health researchers participating in the report, which studied more than 8,000 children at 94 schools, were particularly surprised to find that children throughout the city — not just near Ground Zero — showed symptoms of several psychiatric problems.
"The school system, above all, has to be cognizant of the fact that they are trying to do a job with students who are very troubled, very troubled today because of 9/11," said Christina Hoven, a Columbia University psychiatric epidemiologist who led the study.
In the 1.1 million-student public school system, an estimated 75,000 children likely showed six or more symptoms of post-traumatic stress — enough to be diagnosed with the disorder, according to the Board of Education study.
Researchers said the study was groundbreaking in its comprehensive examination of children's response to a major disaster.
The study surveyed children in grades 4-12 in late February and early March, finding that 76 percent often thought about the terrorist attack, 24 percent had problems sleeping and 17 percent had nightmares. The study was based on questions posed to the children themselves.
Fifteen percent of the children surveyed showed symptoms of agoraphobia — the fear of venturing outside the home. Hoven compared that with a 1996 study of several cities that showed about 5 percent of children on average suffer from agoraphobia.
The board of education study's agoraphobia findings suggest that an estimated 107,000 city schoolchildren suffer from the disorder after Sept. 11. Hoven said the fear could be heightened for children who travel through tunnels and over bridges to get to school.