David B. Grinberg
I think it’s worth examining the pros and cons of allowing some — not all — TSA officers to carry firearms at security checkpoints.
Even though TSA often gets a bad rap it’s worth noting that there are former law enforcement and retired military personnel included within the large TSA workforce. These folks already have the necessary firearms training and real world experience of using firearms in challenging situations.
Moreover, AFGE General Counsel David Borer told Federal News Radio:
“Our officers are verbally assaulted everyday; they’re physically assaulted far too often, and they need better protection at those checkpoints.”
“That’s why we’re advocating for a new class of officer who is trained as a law enforcement officer, has a weapon, has arrest authority and so forth to protect those checkpoints.”
It’s also worth noting that regular airport security may be spread thin due to scarce budget resources at the federal, state and local levels. This makes some security checkpoints “soft targets” for those who wish to inflict mass casualties. For example, if the LAX gunman was shooting people at random — rather than targeting TSA only — it’s possible many more innocent civilians would have been killed or seriously wounded.
Therefore, establishing a class of some TSA officers with weapons might help the overall security situation at airports, particularly at densely packed security checkpoints.
As Attorney General Eric Holder said (video):
“The responsibility for protecting airport security is not a TSA function, but something I think we need to certainly examine.”
“The investigation’s obviously under way and a part of that investigation will be to review the security measures that were in place, not only at LAX, but I think a review of the security arrangements that exist in other airports, as well.”