Despite reminders that potential weapons aren’t allowed
in airliner cabins, people are still trying to bring tens of thousands of
knives, dozens of guns and thousands of box cutters on board planes every
Airport screeners have seized more than 4.8 million items
- including guns, knives, a kitchen sink pipe and a circular saw - in the 13
months the federal government has been in charge of security.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesman
Brian Turmail said more education is needed to alert the traveling public to
the items barred from aircraft cabins.
Since February 2002, TSA screeners confiscated 1.4
million knives, 2.4 million sharp objects, 1,101 guns, 15,666 clubs, more
than 125,000 incendiary items and nearly 40,000 box cutters.
The TSA released these figures at the beginning of March
and the agency says this is the most thorough accounting of seizures at the
nation’s 429 commercial airports. The TSA said it is working with airports
to put passenger information on airport radio stations but that even with
all the publicity some people don’t learn. “If you don’t know by now
that box cutters are inappropriate, no amount of public education is going
to make a difference,” Turmail said.
Among the more unusual items collected by screeners were
a 15-piece cutlery set, a machete, a trailer hitch, horseshoes, that kitchen
sink pipe and metal wall hangings depicting the Greek god Apollo.
Paul Hudson, executive director of the Aviation Consumer
Action Project, an airline safety and security advocacy group, called the
number of confiscated items mind-boggling. “If that’s how many they’ve
found, how many still got through?” he asked.
A test last year by the Transportation Security
Administration showed screeners found knives only 70 percent of the time and
missed one in four guns.
The TSA has changed the list of forbidden items over the
past year, now allowing tweezers, nail clippers and toy transformer robots
that once were prohibited. The agency posts the list on its website http://www.tsa.gov/public/