Friday, March 15, 2013

Keep knives off planes

The U.S. Transportation and Safety Administration has decided that pocketknives carried on commercial airplanes are nothing much to worry about. But the decision has sparked tons of worry among airlines, air marshals and cabin flight crews.

On April 25, TSA airport security officers will confiscate lockable switchblade knives, but allow pocketknives with short skinny blades that don’t lock.

Other things that the TSA is putting into the “nothing much to worry about” category include two golf clubs per passenger, toy bats, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and pool cues. These items along with pocketknives will now be allowed as carry-ons.

In calm tones, TSA officials are assuring Americans that the decision to allow pocket knives is the result of risk analysis. In other words, it’s the result of statistics that show that underwear bombs have a lot more potential to damage an aircraft and kill large numbers of passengers than a pocketknife. Sure they do, but that doesn’t mean that pocketknives and metal and wood sticks are safe.

This isn’t just the scary talk of white-knuckle flyers. Delta Airlines—the largest airline in the world—has protested the decision along with people on the front lines of caring for passengers, including U.S. air marshals and associations of flight attendants and airline pilots.

Flying is nerve-wracking enough without wondering if the unruly passenger a couple of seats over has a knife in his or her pocket or has access to a putter to put some emphasis on any complaint they’d like to make.

Anyone who’s ever taken a class in self-defense knows just how deadly supposedly small, innocuous weapons can be in the hands of people intent on mayhem.

If the TSA won’t ban knives on planes, Congress should.

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