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Now boarding: Scary new stuff like sports equipment

March 05, 2013|By Karin Klein
  • Until recently, Los Angeles County Medical Center in Boyle Heights also screened for prohibited pocket knives.
Until recently, Los Angeles County Medical Center in Boyle Heights also… (Los Angeles Times )

A small knife -- think of the pocket-sized, fold-up, Boy Scout variety -- is a limited weapon. So even though the term “box cutter” still sends chills down our spines, it shouldn’t frighten us too much to contemplate the Transportation Security Administration’s announcement that it will permit knives with blades shorter than 6 centimeters -- about 2.4 inches.

The top reasons given by the TSA aren’t thrilling: This puts our rules in line with those of other nations and will speed up security lines.

We need to do the safe thing no matter what other countries are doing, and I’ll willingly wait in line if it means a safer trip.

But the third reason given by the TSA is more reassuring: Better for screeners to focus on the things that could be far more dangerous to travelers than a low-level Victorinox. Cockpits are locked now, so a small knife couldn’t be used to turn the plane into a weapon. It's not an effective hijack weapon anymore.

In its new, more tolerant mood, though, the TSA also will allow hockey sticks, golf clubs, pool cues and similar bulky sports equipment as carry-on baggage, and here the public should be drawing a line. There already isn’t enough room many times for all the carry-on gear. And this isn’t  a matter of making security run faster; the X-ray machine doesn’t have to work all that hard to detect ski poles. Talk about scary.

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