By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are calling for the Transportation Security Administration to reverse its decision to allow passengers to carry small knives and other potential weapons onto airplanes.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the TSA has prohibited passengers from bringing aboard all knives, baseball bats, golf clubs, hockey sticks and similar items, citing security risks.
But last week, the agency announced it would be ending that policy.
Schumer is asking the TSA to continue to the ban, saying these items could potentially put passengers, flight attendants, pilots and even the structural integrity of planes at risk.
He said the policy change posed a risk but would provide few tangible benefits for passengers.
Schumer noted that undercover federal agents were able to smuggle a mock bomb through security recently at Newark Airport, exposing a significant security breach.
Now is not the time to become less vigilant, he said, and TSA agents shouldn’t be distracted by new rules requiring them to measure the length of knives and bats.
“While it’s true that pilots are safe, locked behind cockpit doors, these dangerous items still pose a significant hazard to the flight crew, other passengers and even the integrity of the plane,” Schumer said in a news release.
“These items are dangerous and have not become less so in the years since they were banned from planes.
“And with the major security breach at Newark this (past) weekend, now is not the time for reduced vigilance or to place additional burdens on TSA agents who should be looking for dangerous items, not wasting time measuring the length of a knife blade.”
MANY OPPOSE RULE
The new rule allowing passengers to carry small knives and other items goes into effect on April 25.
Knives with non-locking blades smaller than 2.36 inches and less than a half inch in width will be allowed.
Many organizations and unions have come out in opposition to the new rule, including the Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which represents thousands of flight attendants; the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which comprises federal air marshals; and the Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations.
Additionally, many family members of people who died in the Sept. 11 attacks have voiced their opposition to the change in policy.
Gillibrand sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asking that the decision by TSA be reversed.
“I am deeply concerned this decision could put the safety of passengers and flight attendants at risk,” she said in a statement.
“Allowing potentially dangerous weapons anywhere near a plane simply does not make sense.”
Email Joe LoTemplio:firstname.lastname@example.org