North Texas Daily

Unfriendly skies get sharper

Unfriendly skies get sharper

March 19
21:49 2013

The stress of air travel is enough to make anybody edgy. But if you’re already afraid of flying in a post-9/11 world, the Transport Security Administration probably just made your life a lot worse.

More commonly known as the TSA, this branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security surprised travelers and airline employees alike by easing up on restrictions concerning what travelers can bring aboard a plane.

For the first time since the 9/11 attacks, airline passengers can soon bring small pocketknives in their carry-on luggage, as long as the blade length does not exceed 2.36 inches.

This change goes into effect next month, and will also allow smaller knives like blades attached to corkscrews or nail clippers to be taken aboard, while still restricting larger knives that might pose a greater threat to passengers and crew.

It seems like a step in the right direction for speeding up the nightmare of modern airport security, but a few important people are concerned.

Actually, it’s more than a few—more than five organizations and labor unions representing thousands of flight attendents, pilots, federal air marshals and concerned passengers have all expressed their opposition to the changed policy.

There’s at least one appeal to reinstate the knife ban floating around on the White House petitions website that has more than 60,000 signatures.

The controversy stems from the unfortunate history of knives on planes. Hijackers used box cutters and possibly other bladed weapons to take control of aircraft during the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Although box cutters still aren’t allowed, the fear remains among passengers and crew that smaller knives could do the same damage in the wrong hands.

No matter how sharp it is, we trust the American people not to give in to the crazed wielder of a two-inch pocketknife, let alone a corkscrew. But that doesn’t mean we think the TSA is right.

It doesn’t matter how many knives you stuff in your pockets—we’re still waiting in line to take off our shoes, putting liquids like shampoo into special containers and watching as 90-year-old women and mentally disabled children are “randomly selected” for invasive pat-downs by TSA agents before we even get on the plane.

In the last decade, more than 25,000 security breaches were documented at American airports monitored by the TSA. These breaches include failures to detect fake bombs, loaded guns and other weapons far more dangerous than a box cutter.

Until these larger problems are addressed, the knife controversy just seems like a distraction. We’re not saying safety in the skies isn’t a priority—but there’s definitely a better way to ensure security when we fly.

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