As Reported by Lillianna Byington for Bloomberg Government
Higher fines, more signs, and a no-fly list could help deter passengers from bringing a rising number of guns to airport security checkpoints, airport executives, police, and lawmakers said.
Such incidents reached record levels over the last year and more needs to be done to stop them, witnesses told a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. Transportation Security Administration officers found 5,972 firearms at airport security checkpoints nationwide in 2021, about an 83% spike from the year before.
“TSA and Congress should consider significantly raising the civil penalties imposed to make an actual impact,” said Jason Wallis, president of Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network and chief of police at the Port of Portland. He suggested other steps: clear signage and permanent revocation of Trusted Traveler privileges for violators.
Others said TSA agents should be compensated better because they are on the front lines of ensuring passenger safety. Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO President Greg Regan called on lawmakers to pass legislation (H.R. 903/S. 1856) that would modify workplace rights and benefits for officers.
“There is no action, response, or antidote to the current surge in illegal passenger-carried firearms more effective than a well-trained and well-treated” TSA workforce, Regan said.
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