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Lawmaker threatens bill to keep knives out of planes

March 11, 2013|By Hugo Martin
  • The TSA plans to ease its list of prohibited items to allow small folding knives on commercial planes.
The TSA plans to ease its list of prohibited items to allow small folding… (TSA )

A plan to allow small knives on commercial planes continued to spur a backlash Monday, with a Massachusetts lawmaker threatening to introduce a bill to halt the policy change.

Transportation Security Administration announced last week that starting April 25 it would allow passengers to carry small folding knives, with blades no more than 2.36 inches in length and 1/2 inches wide, as well as various sporting gear, such as golf clubs.

Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) plans to hold a news conference at Boston's Logan International Airport on Tuesday to add his voice to the chorus of opponents of the change. The lawmaker plans to introduce a bill outlawing knives in the cabin of planes if the TSA does not rescind the proposed change, Markey's representatives say.

Blades and knives have been banned in the cabin of commercial planes since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But TSA Administrator John Pistole said the change in policy will bring the U.S. in line with international security standards and free TSA screeners to look for more serious threats, such as explosives.

The policy change has been opposed by flight attendants, pilots, air marshals, and even an executive from Delta Air Lines.

TSA officials say they find thousands of small folding knives on passengers each day. At Los Angeles International Airport alone, TSA screeners find an average of 1,400 such knives on passenger carry-on bags per month.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) spoke out against the TSA's proposed policy change over the weekend.

Mackey wrote to TSA Administrator John Pistole on Saturday, saying he was "concerned both about the safety and security implications of these changes as well as whether these modifications were made with sufficient consultation with the relevant stakeholders."

This is not the first time Mackey has railed against the easing of TSA rules.

In 2005, he supported legislation to stop the TSA from allowing scissors in the cabin of planes, saying scissors are a potentially lethal weapon in the hands of terrorists. A group of flight attendants also opposed easing the restrictions on scissors in planes.

Nonetheless, the TSA adopted the change and the legislation failed to get enough support to move out of a congressional subcommittee.


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