By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“Today, our calls to keep knives off planes have been heard!” said US Rep. Michael Grimm, reacting to a decision by the federal Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to reverse its policy of knives on airplanes.
On June 5, the TSA announced that it would not permit passengers to carry small knives on flights after all. The announcement represented an about face for the transportation agency which had earlier this year made public its plan to allow passengers to carry knives onto planes, permitted the knives were small.
A ban on knives had been in place since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Ever since the TSA’s bombshell announcement a few months ago that it intended to permit knives on planes, Grimm (R-C-Brooklyn-Staten Island) and US Rep. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) had been leading the charge to get the agency to reverse its decision. The two lawmakers were pushing a “No Knives on Planes” amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations Act. In fact, TSA head John Pistole announced the agency’s new “No Knives” policy only a few hours before the amendment was scheduled to come up for a vote.
“The TSA’s decision to uphold the knife ban is not only smart policy, but will ensure that we continue to maintain the highest levels of safety for passengers and flight crews. In a post-9/11 world, we must always put safety first, and I commend the TSA for reversing its irresponsible decision for one that is smart and prudent,” Grimm said.
“This is a victory for every single person who sets foot on a plane, and a reaffirmation that the government listens to the people,” said Markey who credited a grass-roots movement among pilots, flight attendants, law enforcement officials and TSA screeners, with making a difference in the fight.
TSA originally proposed the rule change in March, expanding the list of accepted items to small knives, golf clubs, and small baseball bats.
Despite the TSA’s reversal, Grimm and Markey said they still planned to introduce their amendment to ensure that there will not be another reversal in the TSA’s position regarding knives on planes. The “No Knives on Planes” amendment would prohibit the use of federal funds from being used to implement changes to the list of sharp objects prohibited by TSA.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who had been working on legislation in the senate, also praised the TSA decision to go back to the ban on knives.
"It seemed obvious to most travelers and airline employees that the decision to allow knives on planes was wrong, and we're glad the TSA, after further review and input, has seen it our way. This decision will allow TSA agents to focus on more important things than measuring the length of knives, and sorting the 'good' knives from the 'bad.' Their move is the right one, and I'd like to thank them to listening to our input and the input of the flying public" Schumer said.