The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently announced less restrictive rules for carrying knives on planes, a move CNN opinion columnist Bob Greene calls “insane” and “dimwitted.”
In early March, the TSA declared it would soon allow knives with blades shorter than 2.36 inches in length, and no wider than a half-inch, to be carried onto flights. The green-lighted knives cannot have a molded grip or a blade that is fixed or locked into place, meaning pocket knives are pretty much the only exception. Although, as Greene explains, there has been push back from members of Congress and aircraft crew members, the TSA has shown no sign of rescinding the decision, which should go into effect on April 25.In a press luncheon late last month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explained the reasoning behind the new policy: “We’re trying to prevent a bomb from getting on a plane. And if you are talking about a small knife, there are already things on a plane that somebody can convert into a small, sharp object.”
But Greene clearly disagrees, writing there is still a whole lot of risk involved in allowing knives on planes, and pointing out it was blades–not bombs–that allowed terrorists to take over planes on 9/11. However, he fails to note the many ways air travel has changed since the attacks, both at the airport and on the plane, including the creation of the TSA, increased screening processes, fortified aircraft doors and trained air marshals, not to mention a motivated passenger base willing to fight back. He also doesn’t mention that box cutters, the weapon used in the 9/11 attacks, will not be permitted to be carried on planes when the new rules go into effect later this month.
Greene’s other argument is that the move won’t speed up airport screening. He envisions TSA officers holding up the line to pull out rulers and ensure blades are falling under the 2.36 inch mark. But since small pocket knives are pretty much the only tools that will be allowed on planes, it seems pretty easy to quickly identify what is up to snuff and what’s not.
As someone who always carries a tiny Swiss Army Knife on my keychain, there’s been more than one occasion I’ve forgotten to leave it at home. I’ve had to forfeit two to airport security, and there’s been once or twice when I passed through the checkpoint with the tiny tool. It’s nice to see the TSA is implementing some concrete rules that conform to international standards, and I’ll be happy to soon travel with my knife (and screwdriver, and can opener and toothpick) in tow.
[Image credit: The Transportation Security Administration]