Sunday, July 7, 2013

About That Ban On Knives On Planes

The Transportation Security Administration had planned to remove its ban on certain knives on planes. However in the face of criticism from certain politicians and flight attendant unions, they caved in.
Politics and arrogance likely scuttled the plan by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to allow small knives back on planes, but it's not clear that fliers are any safer for it.

Last week, the TSA announced that while the agency’s “top priority continues to be expansion of efforts to implement a layered, risk-based security approach to passenger screening while maximizing resources,” it was putting aside a proposed plan to allow passengers to take small knives, toy bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks and other currently prohibited sports equipment on board as carry-on items.

The revised list of allowable carry-on items was supposed to go into effect at the end of April, but received strong opposition from flight attendants, pilots, law enforcement, airlines and bi-partisan group of legislators concerned that knives, especially, could be used in attacks on flight crews and other passengers.
The flight attendant unions even had their own webpage devoted to the issue. They celebrated their "win" by saying, “We promised ‘No Knives on Planes Ever Again,’ and today that promise was kept.”

This lead paragraph in an AP story on the crash of the Asiana Boeing 777 yesterday illustrates why the TSA's capitulation in the face of opposition was such a mistake.
Police officers threw utility knives up to crew members inside the burning wreckage of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 so they could cut away passengers' seat belts. Passengers jumped down emergency slides, escaping the smoke. One walked through a hole where a rear bathroom had been.
It was a miracle that the plane was evacuated before the fire spread to engulf the plane. Imagine if the airport cops hadn't given knives to the crew members struggling to get passengers loose from their seat belts. Instead of only two young passengers killed in the crash, the news would have been about all those who burned to death while trapped in the plane.

It certainly does make the case for allowing knives of some sort back on planes. I wonder how many of the co-sponsors of HR 1093 - No Knives Act of 2013 - as well the co-sponsors of S. 1008 - Keep Knives Out of Our Skies Act - are willing to retract their sponsorship of the respective bills in light of this.

1 comment:

  1. I noticed this in the story, and thought the same thing you did! Knives aren't just weapons, they are tools...often essential ones. I remember from my Boy Scout days that a good knife was an essential piece of survival kit. I've carried some sort of knife every day since I was about 8 years old...except on a plane.