TSA Delays Change To Knife Restrictions

By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
The TSA is delaying its move to loosen restrictions on small knives on planes.


(CBS News) The Transportation Security Administration said it is delaying the implementation of a new controversial policy that would allow small knives on planes.

In March, TSA Administrator John Pistole announced passengers would soon be allowed to carry previously-banned pocket knives and other items onto planes. The Prohibited Items List was originally scheduled to go into effect April 25, but the start date was pushed forward to an unspecified date "in order to accommodate further input from the Aviation Security Advisory Committee."

"This timing will enable TSA to incorporate the ASAC's feedback about the changes to the Prohibited Items List and continue workforce training," TSA said in a statement.

The new policy would permit folding knives with blades that are 2.36 inches or less in length and are less than one-half-inch wide. It also includes some sports equipment, like souvenir baseball bats and golf clubs. Items like box cutters and razor blade are still prohibited.

Transportation safety officials say the policy reflects the reality of airline safety concerns.

"This is a really good decision," Mark Rosenker, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and a CBS News consultant, told CBS News correspondent Bob Orr when the news first came out.

"We've seen underwear that can blow up. We've seen people that have should they've attempt to blow up. We've seen people with chemicals that could potentially blow up," he said. "And they really need to be looking at the kinds of threats that are significantly more lethal than a two-and-a-half-inch blade."

But the announcement came with a lot of backlash. Flight attendants, pilots, federal air marshals and insurance companies were a part of the growing chorus that opposed the policy.

"Our nation's aviation system is the safest in the world thanks to multilayered security measures that include prohibition on many items that could pose a threat to the integrity of the aircraft cabin," the Flight Attendants Union Coalition said at the time. "The continued ban on dangerous objects in an integral layer in aviation security and must remain in place."

John Adler, who represents federal air marshals as national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said he and other "stakeholders" weren't consulted by the TSA and the association would ask Congress to block the policy change.

Some 9/11 families were also angry over the loosened rules. The sister of the pilot on American Airlines Flight 77, Debra Burlingame, told CBS News last month she thought the TSA's plan was dangerous. Charles Burlingame was killed when his plane was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon.

"Do you really think a terrorist can't make deadly use of these permitted items?" she said.

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