Lawmakers urge TSA to reinstate knife ban

 

(John Moore/Getty Images)

(John Moore/Getty Images)

Three members of the House homeland security committee formally objected on Monday to the Transportation Security Administration’s controversial decision to lift a ban on small knives and certain sports equipment on board airplanes.

TSA Administrator John S. Pistole announced the new policy on March 4, immediately drawing complaints from labor groups that represent flight attendants, federal air marshals and pilots.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), who is ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, joined Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who also serve on the committee, in writing a letter urging Pistole to refrain from implementing the change.

The committee has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Thursday.

The new policy is scheduled to take effect on April 25. It would allow passengers to carry pocketknives with blades less than 2.36 inches long and less than half an inch wide, as well as golf clubs, souvenir baseball bats, ski poles and other sporting equipment.

“Lifting the ban on knives is an irresponsible and short-sighted decision that could seriously harm innocent passengers or the dedicated crew,” said Grimm, a former federal law-enforcement agent.

Union officials complained that the TSA did not consult stakeholders such as flight attendants, air marshals and the Aviation Security Advisory Committee before making its decision.

Thompson echoed that complaint in a statement on Monday, saying that “developing policies in a vacuum that will impact millions of passengers and thousands of front-line workers is a disservice to the American public.”

The TSA said last week that its new policy would conform with international standards and allow agency personnel to focus more on “finding higher-threat items such as explosives.”

 

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