Tuesday, March 5, 2013

TSA Relaxes Rules on Pocket Knives and Sporting Goods

Bloomberg is reporting that the TSA will now allow small folding pocket knives, as well as some previously banned sporting goods items like hockey sticks and golf clubs. There are some size restrictions and such. For example, the blades have to be shorter than 6 centimeters and cannot lock in place. The new rules take effect April 25, 2013.

I applaud this move as a win for common sense. While it certainly makes sense to prohibit certain dangerous objects, the TSA is recognizing that the real risk is from dangerous people. TSA Pre-Check has already made travelling much easier for me, and not having to be taken aside for forgetting everyday objects like pocket knives in my bag will ease the stress of travelling even more.

I have no particular desire to take a pocket knife on an airplane, but I nevertheless had one confiscated in 2011. I was a boy scout, and I have always carried a swiss army knife with me in my backpack. They're incredibly handy when you need a screwdriver or bottle opener. After pocket knives were banned following 9/11, I started removing it before every flight and replacing it when I returned. One day I packed in a hurry and forgot to remove it. Bye bye pocket knife. It wasn't the end of the world, but I liked that knife, and I was sad to lose it.

I'm glad to see the focus is shifting from what people carry with them onto flights to a more realistic risk-based assessment technique that focuses on background checks and other types of screening.