U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez and Kirsten E. Gillibrand today introduced legislation that will prohibit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from allowing airline passengers to carry small knives onto airplanes. In March, the TSA announced that it would no longer be prohibiting knife blades of 2.36 inches or shorter onboard planes.
"The TSA's dangerous new policy will put passengers, flight attendants and pilots at risk and we must reverse it to make sure our airplanes are secure," said Senator Schumer. "Knives should continue to be kept off passenger planes and this legislation will make sure of that, once and for all."
"Allowing knives on airplanes would exacerbate security problems at airports and onboard flights, not reduce them," said Senator Lautenberg. "One of the airplanes used during the September 11th attacks departed from Newark Liberty Airport, and small weapons were used by several of the attackers. The 9/11 attacks serve as a constant reminder of the dangers we face with airline travel, and this legislation would help us remain vigilant in protecting both passengers and flight crews."
"Relaxing security rules and allowing knives back on planes simply doesn't make sense," said Senator Menendez. "This bill makes clear that these knives must remain on the no-fly list."
"I am deeply concerned the decision made to allow these small knives on planes could put the safety of passengers and flight attendants at risk," said Senator Gillibrand. "As I advocated to Secretary Napolitano directly, allowing potentially dangerous weapons anywhere near a plane simply does not make sense. As we've repeatedly seen, New York is the number one target for terrorists around the world who want to harm Americans. We must remain vigilant in guarding against attacks and protect New York and our nation."
On March 28th, TSA Administrator John Pistole announced that the agency would allow small knives and blades to be carried onboard airplanes for the first time in nearly twelve years. The TSA has argued that this policy will speed up checkpoint screenings and allow TSA officers to focus on items that cause greater security risks. The rule was supposed to go into effect on April 25th but on April 22nd Administrator Pistole announced that implementation would be delayed.
Many organizations and unions have come out against the TSA's knife policy. These organizations include the Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which represents thousands of flight attendants; the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents federal air marshals; and the Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations. Additionally, many family members of the victims of the September 11th attacks have voiced their opposition to the TSA's new rule and several major airlines have questioned the policy change.
Schumer, Lautenberg, Menendez and Gillibrand today introduced legislation in the Senate that will overturn the TSA's new knife policy and continue to prohibit small knives onboard airplanes. Over 2,000 knives are confiscated each day and the Senators explained that this legislation will make sure that those 2,000 knives do not make it onboard airplanes.