TSA Union Calls for Armed Employees; Everybody with Common Sense Recoils at the Idea

Perhaps the TSA should strive harder to behave in ways that don't fill Americans with rage?


My doctor knows less about my body than these people.
Credit: lonelysandwich / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Shooting you in the face is one of the few awful things the Transportation Security Administration's employees can't do to you.

But one guy loses his mind (maybe) and kills one and obviously the next thing that's going to happen is a fearmongering response designed to create more jobs and give the most intrusive, invasive government agency we've created (because at least the National Security Agency can't physically fondle you) more power. Politico notes the TSA union's response:

The fatal shooting of Gerardo Hernandez and the ensuing gunfight at LAX called attention to a long-running debate over the powers of TSA, whose screeners aren't considered law enforcement officers even though many of them wear badges. The 39-year-old Hernandez was the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the agency's history.

Federal prosecutors have filed homicide and other charges against 23-year-old Los Angeles resident Paul Ciancia, whom authorities have suggested was specifically targeting TSA employees.

Both lawmakers and the Obama administration have called for reviewing airport security procedures after the shooting spree. But union officials are already offering a concrete proposal: create a new category of TSA agent in addition to the 45,000 existing screeners. People in the new positions would be law enforcement officers, who could carry handcuffs and firearms as well as make arrests.

Union leaders say the enhanced status would help protect an unfairly demonized workforce, as well as security checkpoints like the one where Friday's mayhem began.

One person's "unfairly demonized workforce" is another person's stolen iPads and parking passes, brutal humiliation, ignorance-based ethnic discrimination and nearly 10,000 complaints of misconduct over two years.

It doesn't seem likely that this rather extreme response is going to get much of anywhere. CNN reports objections from Congress members, police unions protecting their turf, and even former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge thinks it's not a good idea:

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge called the idea of arming officers a "a big mistake."

"You have literally hundreds and hundreds of armed police officers roaming every major airport in America. And I don't think arming another 40 or 50 or 60 thousand people … would have prevented this incident from happening," he said.

During CNN's rather terrible coverage of the shooting on Friday, some talking head (possibly with the union or TSA, but I missed the identification) complained that TSA agents are "sitting ducks" in a live-shooter scenario. Funny, so are the rest of us, by government diktat.