In a surprising twist of events, the TSA has lifted the ban on traveling by air with pocketknives.
According to an article by NPR, the ban, which has been in place since 2002, was deemed unnecessary and was lifted, allowing travelers to carry small knives on board.
The ban on baseball bats, golf clubs and hockey sticks was also lifted, but the ban on large containers of liquids was kept, because of recent attempts by terrorists to smuggle liquid bombs aboard flights.
But family members of the 9/11 victims and flight attendants in particular are outraged and concerned over the new policy. Pocketknives are potentially lethal and a legitimate cause for apprehension.
“What’s the difference between a pocketknife and a box cutter, for crying out loud?” asked David Beamer, the father of a 9/11 victim.
Beamer has a point. The difference between a box cutter and a knife seems small. “[The decision is] part of TSA’s overall risk-based security approach and aligns TSA with international standards,” said a TSA spokesperson.
However, the real reason TSA lifted the ban is disturbing. Basically, folded pocketknives are hard for TSA scanners to spot, and during checks inspectors with pocketknives would regularly pass through security. This meant those airports failed the performance testing, giving them low rates.
But with the new policy, it won’t matter if pocketknives are found or not, so TSA employees will earn higher ratings and fewer security failures.
While a pocketknife alone will not pose an alarming terrorist threat, the previous policy should have been kept in place.
Even though TSA employees may not have caught every pocketknife that passed through checkpoints, each one that was caught made the plane trip a little safer for both passengers and flight crews.
The motives behind the new TSA policy seem like a bureaucratic attempt to make numbers look better, not a practical attempt to successfully execute a job, which is to protect the traveling public.
Lifting the ban on items like baseball bats and golf clubs was needed, since neither of those items has caused alarm on flights.
Pocketknives, however, are a different category of security threat. Protecting air travelers is a hard and difficult task, but the new policy change raises risks and sparks anger, two things that neither TSA nor the regular traveler needs.
Air stewardesses and pilots could now face the danger of having knives pulled on them. After years of ensuring this ban was followed, it makes little sense to change and allow knives on board now.