Armed TSA Agents Supported by Majority of Americans

americans better off trusting each other with gunsbenchilada/flickrNearly 60 percent of respondents in the latest Reason-Rupe poll said they believed TSA agents at airports ought to carry guns. 35 percent opposed the idea, and only 4 percent gave the measured response that it “depends.” The high level of support for arming the agents oppose it that have operated airport checkpoints since 9/11 could be a result of last month’s shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, in which the first TSA agent to die in the line of duty was killed. The alleged shooter reportedly went to the airport looking specifically to target a TSA agent.

For more than a decade, TSA agents at airports have been unarmed, with no major incidents at any airport checkpoint. Indeed, in most security-related incidents involving TSA at the airport, it’s the agents accused of misconduct and criminal activity, largely theft. Earlier this year, a GAO study found misconduct by TSA agents up 26 percent in 3 years. A 2011 report in the LA Times noted that fewer than 500 TSA employees had been arrested for alleged theft, about .3 percent of the workforce, but acknowledged it could just be that “culprits just don't get caught very often.” In its twelve years of existence, however, the kinds of situations where a TSA agent might need to be armed have been even rarer, with that first fatality occurring just a few months ago. It’s far from clear arming TSA agents would have any positive effect anyway. At LAX, for example, about 400 armed police officers already patrol the airport. Arming the agents that have to engage with every single traveler at the airport will only make an uncomfortable situation for flyers even more so, with no benefit to show for it. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    If you like your police state, you can keep it!

  • RBS||

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • Invisible Finger||

    Did the poll ask if people felt that McDonald's employees, teachers, and gas station attendants should be armed? Maybe the percentage for those jobs is even higher.

    I crack myself up sometimes.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Gas station attendants: yes
    McD's Employees: I'm not convinced those near me don't have felony convictions.
    Teachers: Too many proggies, they won't pick up the weapon.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    But but but.... If gas station attendants fired their guns, it will ignite the gasoline vapor like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie!!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Thank you very much, LAX shooter.

  • Rich||

    Arming the agents that have to engage with every single traveler at the airport will only make an uncomfortable situation for flyers even more so, with no benefit to show for it.

    Well, it might be argued that the resulting viral videos could show some benefit.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Do you believe stopping an attack even deadlier than 9/11 is essential? If arming TSA agents would stop that attack, do you favor arming the TSA?

  • UnCivilServant||


    And Hell No.

  • Timrekgrun||

    Nice false dichotomy. The chances that arming TSA agents will stop a major terror attack is so slim as to be almost statistically nonexistent. Given what we know about armed law enforcement officers; TSA agents shooting unarmed innocents is pretty much inevitable.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Nearly 60 percent of respondents in the latest Reason-Rupe poll said they believed TSA agents at airports ought to carry guns. 35 percent opposed the idea

    How does this break down in terms of respondents with frequent actual real-world experience dealing with the TSA?

  • Timrekgrun||

    Exactly. I've been flying a lot since moving to Germany (also not a libertarian utopia), and the TSA schleps are no more deserving of having government sanctioned firearms than the schmoes at the DMV.

  • GroundTruth||

    Face it guys, those of us who believe in (common sense and) liberty are outnumbered by fooling cowards.

  • Timrekgrun||

    60% of people who fly want to get shot by half trained power-trippers who yell "Stop Resisting!!" as they try to calm down their bawling and thoroughly frisked tween daughter? Shouldn't this header really read, "Only 35% of Americans deserve to retain their inalienable rights."?

  • GroundTruth||

    Every TSA agent should be arrested, not armed.

    Sort of a new twist on the slogan: "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns".

  • Loki||

    Nearly 60 percent of respondents in the latest Reason-Rupe poll said they believed TSA agents at airports ought to carry guns are fucking morons who deserve whatever they get.

    Which with untrained mouth breathing armed TSA goons is probably going to be shot at. I say "shot at" because I doubt the low foreheads who work for the TSA will be able to shoot straight enough to actually hit the small child or elderly person in a wheelchair who makes them fear for their life by not holding still for their ritualistic fondling. Instead they'll end up hitting some innocent bystander. Which means they won't actually get what they deserve, instead someone else will. Although statistically speaking, there's a 60% chance that person will also be a dipshit.

    But don't worry about TSA agent Yosemite Sam, he's got a union to back him up and make sure nothing else happens after he shoots some poor schmuck. Now STOP RESISTING!

  • creech||

    If TSA agents are armed, I predict there will be more deaths due to guns being played with, cleaned when "empty", or just falling out of holsters, than there are terrorists shot. While we are at it, let's arm the check-in agents, the porters, the and theguys who drive the parking lot vans because they all interact with the terrorists before they go through TSA security.

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    Shocking discovery: latest poll reveals American citizens' rank ignorance about all aspects of government.

    I doubt that most respondents even know what the TSA stands for, much less what it is or the sorts of individuals constitute its ranks. The word agent sounds much more highly-trained FBI-ish than "person hired after responding to ad seen on the back of Dominos box."

  • ||

    Disgusting yet unsurprising. I want to show you something. It's my shocked face.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    most respondents even know what the TSA stands for

    Terrorist Shooting Agency

    That's why they need guns.


  • AdamJ||

    Give $9/hour idiots guns to possibly shoot in a crowded airport? Sure, why not?

  • Gray Ghost||

    Especially if they're going to be given them under the same sort of idiotic rules that armed pilots in the cockpit had to labor under. It seemed like the rulemakers were trying to encourage NDs.

  • AdamJ||

    Not sure what would be worse, arming TSA agents or 3rd grade teachers.

  • Tucci78||

    I'd like to see a poll of TSA employees to determine how many of them feel that law-abiding private citizens ought to carry guns, both in airports and as passengers aboard commercial airliners.

    With proper frangible projectiles, such firearms in the hands of private citizens committed to the defense of their own safety as well as the safety of their fellow passengers cannot help but pose a tremendous disincentive to hijackers and other terrorists.

    Hey, it works for the Israelis. Let's see what our Heimatsicherheitsdienst thugs feel about it.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.