Murkowski Changes TSA’s Mind on Knife Threat to Air Safety

Airline Industry Praises work of Senator, Who Pressured Feds to not “Take Backward Steps on Passenger Safety”

WASHINGTON, DC—Senator Lisa Murkowski is welcoming the Transportation Security Administration reversing course on its plan to begin allowing knives back on passenger airplanes. Today’s announcement from the TSA comes after passengers, pilots, and flight attendants nationwide spoke out against the policy change, with Murkowski leading the charge in a three-month campaign that included filing legislation, letters of pressure to department heads, and questioning Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in a Senate hearing.

“I am pleased that the Department of Homeland Security has changed its mind on the issue of knives on planes,” said Murkowski.  “Not only was allowing knife blades a logistical nightmare for security lines, but it also carried the obvious risk of allowing more weapons onto planes and putting American lives at risk.  Alaskans tell me they have grown accustomed to packing their knives in their luggage and understand the reasoning behind it, and I don’t see any reason to take backward steps on passenger safety.”

(Types of knives that nearly were allowed on planes until today’s announcement)

“Aviation stakeholders shared a near unanimous position that we should never again allow knives in the aircraft cabin,” stated Veda Shook, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. “Today, the TSA announced that review of stakeholder feedback led them to the same common sense conclusion and reversed its rule change. Flight Attendants throughout the nation are grateful for the leadership of Senator Murkowski on this issue and we support her efforts to pass legislation that will ensure a permanent ban on knives on planes.”

On March 5th, TSA Administrator John Pistole announced that airplane security screeners were going to adjust to a risk-based strategy that would permit small knives and bats, hockey sticks and billiard cue sticks on-board. Senator Murkowski immediately filed legislation to prohibit the policy regarding knives from moving forward with her colleague Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).  In addition to that, the two Senators wrote a letter to DHS Secretary Napolitano, pointing out the poor reasoning behind the policy, writing:

“The TSA has argued that this new policy will speed up checkpoint screenings and enable TSOs to focus on greater security risks. We fear that the exact opposite will occur.  We are quite concerned at the prospect that checkpoint screenings slow to a crawl as TSOs and passengers disagree over the length or width of knives or knives which do not meet policy.”

The Senators added that the security guards would not even be permitted measuring tools to implement the policy.  Senator Murkowski later drilled down on this issue in a Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, reminding DHS Secretary Napolitano that “there are people in the air nationwide who are anxious, please don’t make us more vulnerable.”

(Senator Murkowski asks Secretary Napolitano about knives on planes, 4/2013– Click to watch)

# # #