The union that represents the Transportation Security Agency wants to arm its agents at airport security checkpoints.
President of the American Federation of Government Employees J. David Cox spoke out following an attack at the New Orleans airport where a man sprayed insecticide on TSA agents and attacked them with a machete.
Cox pointed out that security agents were verbally abused on a regular basis, although I am not sure this is a great reason to give the TSA fire power. Airport security is unpleasant at best and many travelers do not see the point of inconvenient exercises to get on a plane. (Why are we still taking off our shoes?)
“We are sickened by the mindlessness and ferocity of this attack on TSA officers,” Cox said in a statement on the union website. “TSOs go to work every day to keep our nation safe from violent individuals who look to inflict harm on the flying public. All too often, TSOs become the targets of violence themselves, both verbal and physical.”
Security at airports currently falls to the local police forces and in the New Orleans attack, the perp was gunned down by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy before more harm was done.
Cox is not asking for all agents to be armed, only a select force.
I’m not convinced that arming the airport equivalent of a DMV employee is a smart decision. We seem to have enough controversy surrounding our actual police force, a group trained specifically to wield deadly force.
“For years, AFGE has advocated for a new law enforcement unit within TSA, specially trained and armed to respond to such attacks, and for other safety measures at screening checkpoints,” Cox said. “We applaud the response of law enforcement officers who ended yesterday’s attack in New Orleans, but many other airports are not prepared to respond as quickly or as effectively.”
Put me down for “no, thanks.”