"Countersafety" is in the air


Watch out for rage-filled fellow passengers wielding miniature Swiss army knives, novelty baseball bats and hockey sticks if you fly anywhere in the country this summer.

That’s because the Transportation Security Administration has revised its prohibited items list.

Folding knives with small blades as well as some sporting equipment will be allowed to be stored in carry-on luggage after April 25th.

The TSA announced the change in their policy last Tuesday, provoking instantaneous outcry from pilots, flight attendants, air marshals and insurance agencies, not to mention the public.

Passengers will be able to carry knives with folding, non-locking blades no longer than 2.36 inches and no wider than a half inch, ending an 11-year ban on such objects. Box cutters and razor blades are still prohibited.

Sporting equipment including billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and golf clubs will be allowed in carry-on luggage. Novelty bats shorter than 24 inches and weighing less than 24 ounces are also allowed.

According to the TSA’s blog, the agency organized an internal committee to examine the prohibited items list and found that these items pose minimal threat to cabin security.

Part of a “risk-based security approach,” the change allows TSA officers to focus on sniffing out higher-threat items, like explosives. It also aligns the TSA’s standards with those of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The ICAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations, and according to the organization’s website, sets “standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency and regularity, as well as for aviation environmental protection” among 191 member states.
If the standards set forth by the ICAO are stringent enough to protect flyers in 191 other countries, they’re probably good enough for flyers in the United States too.

However, the Associated Press reports that president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) Jon Adler isn’t happy with the TSA’s new “countersafety policy,” and plans to lobby Congress to block the change.

Adler’s 26,000-member strong association includes federal air marshals, who (understandably) feel like they have a stake in the argument.
It’s our air marshals that have to face the threat when passengers succumb to “air rage” and attempt to wreak havoc with the mini plastic golf clubs they won at a putt-putt tournament on vacation in the Florida Keys.

But really, the last thing that the FLEOA wants to do is ask Congress to get involved in the backlash from the TSA’s policy change. Our Congress would probably argue unsuccessfully for months before finally sequestering the TSA’s federal funding as well as their prohibited items list in an attempt to force compromise on the issue.

With no government funding to keep business travelers, families on vacation and other passengers from bringing weapons on board and murdering each other, American skies would devolve into total chaos.

So for all our sakes, let’s hope this “countersafety issue” dies before our lawmakers get involved. We’ll just have to take into account the possibility of terrorists/ psychopaths taking over a plane or harming passengers with miniature and novelty weapons when we plan our summer getaways from now on.

03/14/2013


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