The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

March 25, 2013

Other Views: Knives still a threat

— The often-maligned airport security folks have a daunting job scanning and X-raying millions of passengers and luggage every day in America’s airports, all in an attempt to keep us safe. The time and hassles for passengers makes the flying experience less fun and more stressful.

So you may expect the public would have been happy when federal safety officials announced they were going to make changes to carry-on policies that would free up guards’ time to look for the largest threats and to speed the security process.

But when the Transportation Safety Administration said it was going to now allow people to carry small knives onto planes, the announcement brought mostly puzzlement and shock from the public and Congress.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, knives have been prohibited in airline cabins, along with box cutters, larger containers of liquids and a host of other items that could be used for mischief.

The change also will permit passengers to carry on sports equipment, including hockey sticks, shorter souvenir baseball bats and golf clubs.

The TSA says small knives don’t pose serious threats and they’d like their screeners to concentrate more on the biggest threat — explosive devices. And they say the relaxed restrictions, to take effect in late April, are in line with international flight rules.

It’s a bad idea that was badly decided by the TSA, which failed to even get input from flight attendant and pilot unions — groups both staunchly opposed to the relaxed standards.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the agency’s policy change is a “risk-based approach that attempts to segregate out passengers ... and evaluate their risk.’’ She said TSA wants to focus more on behavioral profiling — which Israel successfully uses in its airports — to focus on likely terrorists.

That’s a good idea, but it doesn’t excuse the boneheaded idea of allowing people to bring knives on airplanes — knives that can cause plenty of mayhem and injury if wielded by unstable people, drunks or an actual terrorist.

The flying public understands a little hassle is well worth creating safe flights. The TSA should reverse this wrongheaded decision.

The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

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