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Bridget Johnson


November 4, 2013 - 3:41 pm

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Congress needs to take a look at protecting Transportation Security Administration agents after the slaying of one at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday.

But when asked on CNN if they should be armed, she said, “No, not per se.”

“But I think there’s a problem there. I can understand how an armed police officer would not want to stand at a checkpoint for a full eight hours. Maybe they should be rotated in every two hours,” the senator added.

Paul Ciancia allegedly shot TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez first at the checkpoint where ID and boarding pass are checked, went up the escalator toward the security screening, then came back down the escalator to finish off his victim.

“But to have a two to three minute delay to getting an armed police officer to a checkpoint, I think, is too long. And I think what this does, in addition to the tragedy it has caused families and those people wounded, is also another thing that was pointed out, and that is that this shooter could have gotten onto that plane in the process of loading with an open cockpit door. And that presents a whole host of other problems,” Feinstein said.

“So I think you’ve got to take a look at the checkpoint. You’ve got to have the checkpoint protected with armed officers virtually at all times, maybe not TSA, because TSA is up close and personal. They’re doing body searches, you don’t want someone snatching a weapon from a TSA officer — but with other forms of armed police. I really think it’s going to do — it’s — what this has done is expose a big loophole in plane security.”

Feinstein said Congress is currently flummoxed with the question of how to get more mental health treatment for would-be shooters and identify the mentally ill trying to buy guns.

“How do you know that when somebody goes in to buy a gun that they are mentally ill if they don’t appear to be so at the moment? This is, I think, a real dilemma. It is not easy to do,” she said.

“I think — and — and my view has been, after a long time of watching this, since the first mass shooting in 1968 at the Texas bell tower, is that we have to care about the kinds of weapons that are available to people. And here you have a .223 MP-15, MP standing for military and police. That was the supposed use of this weapon. It’s a — it’s an AR-15 type weapon. It’s made by Smith & Wesson. Whether it has a bullet button in it that would make it legal to use in California or to sell in California, I don’t know.”

Ciancia reportedly bought the weapon at a Van Nuys gun store. “I don’t know whether this was a federal firearms dealer or not. So that has to be shown. I’ve heard that it was, but I don’t know for sure,” Feinstein said.

“But I think there’s got to be a way to prevent people who have unstable mental illnesses from obtaining firearms. Now, in Aurora, this young man was clearly unstable. His mother should have known it from a lot of the — of his attitude and behavior and his room. She took him out shooting. Now, that’s a strange thing,” the assault weapons ban author continued. “So how you do this, I wish I knew. How you categorize somebody as mentally not able to buy a firearm, I wish I knew. I don’t happen to know that right now.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (3)
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I don't want this to be as disparaging as it's about to sound but I'm kinda stuck.
The frontline TSA screeners are there to discourage hijackers and to screen for stupid stuff like leaving loaded guns in carry-on luggage. The TSA screeners have never been intended to catch terrorists, just as private security guards are more to prevent intruders than to catch them. So the TSA screeners are kind of like the beagles that Ag uses to watch for contraband plants; they're meant to be friendly rather than scary.
TSA screeners are usually backed up by armed police -- in Billings, we have our own airport police department. That's normally an appropriate backup and, although I wont' disparage TSA as S-B is doing, I think that arming them might be a mistake. Or arm one member at each point -- but that officer is not the primary screener, does not make direct contact with travelers. The activity of the screeners would actually put their weapons at considerable risk.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
From the beginning, it was obvious that the purpose of the TSA was to grope, take pornographic pictures of, annoy, and steal from the traveling public to cow them into submission to the State [think National Parks Service during the shutdown at a lower key, constant level] AND to be a bullet absorber. They lack the training, background, or mental stability to do anything else. I would not trust them with a firearm, and to be honest if the government was halfway smart they would not want the liability for having them armed.

Mind you, they frequently aren't even a quarter of the way to being smart.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Don't arm them.
Security guards and bailiffs have to stand for hours, goes with the duty.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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