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TSA Union Calls For Armed Guards At Every Checkpoint 603

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Brian Tumulty writes at USA Today that the union representing airport screeners for the Transportation Security Administration says Friday's fatal shooting of an agent at Los Angeles International Airport highlights the need for armed security officers at every airport checkpoint. The screeners, who earn up to $30,000 annually, have not requested to carry guns themselves, but they do want an armed security officer present at every checkpoint says J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents the screeners. "Every local airport has its own security arrangement with local police to some type of contract security force," says Cox. "There is no standardization throughout the country. Every airport operates differently. Obviously at L.A. there were a fair number of local police officers there." Congress may investigate the issue but Sen. Tom Carper, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, says that "there will be an appropriate time — after all the facts have been gathered and thoughtfully analyzed —to review existing policy and procedure to see what, if anything, can be learned from this unfortunate incident to help prevent future tragedies." TSA officials say that they don't anticipate a change in the agency security posture at the moment, but "passengers may see an increased presence of local law enforcement officers throughout the country.""
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TSA Union Calls For Armed Guards At Every Checkpoint

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  • Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:10AM (#45324209) Homepage

    I think this is a good idea. If/when future similar incidents occur, all those that are NOT carrying a firearm will be secondary targets. The poor guy who's carrying is just going to be the first guy shot, giving everyone else a slight chance to duck and hide.

  • Sooo.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by prisoner-of-enigma ( 535770 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:15AM (#45324261) Homepage

    ...armed gunman opens fire on unarmed targets, and the logical response is to request that his targets be allowed to arm themselves to fend off future attacks of a similar nature. Remind me again why it's practically impossible for me to purchase a handgun to defend myself in California?

  • by MikeLip ( 797771 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:25AM (#45324335)
    Isn't the union representing the screeners? MY question is - who gets the kickback for the contract on the new armed guards? It's unthinkable that no one will. How about hiring Blackwater? They seemed pretty good at shooting civilians.
  • Protect your own (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:35AM (#45324439)

    If the LAX shooter had been interested in mowing down passengers instead of TSA agents, then armed guards at the TSA checkpoints would have done nothing to protect those passengers. At LAX in places like Terminal 3, the lines to the security checkpoints can flow out of the building and onto the sidewalk creating a massive concentration of terrorist targets. Protecting them 100% with armed guards would require 10 times the number of agents that are currently employed. Providing armed guards at the checkpoints themselves only protects those around the checkpoints i.e. the TSA agents themselves.

    If anything the best way to protect the passengers is to process them from the street and into the secured terminal at a faster pace, which would require a huge increase in TSA checkpoints. This is an inherently parallelizable task, but would require money to be spent. But terminals in places such as LAX aren't designed for such parallel operations. Using Terminal 3 as an example, you enter from street level then go up a flight of stairs/escalator, following an S-shaped path that snakes around back on itself before arriving at the security checkpoint. Once there, there is only enough room for 2 or 3 parallel operations at once.

    BTW last time I was flying out of Orlando I encountered a private company that would sell you the ability to jump to the front of the TSA queue. So instead of building out the infrastructure to better accommodate the passengers in light of having to go through the TSA, the airport grants a license to this company to exploit the frustrations and $$ of the people in the queue. (Which is turn pisses off the other passengers who experience smug people pushing in front of them in the queue and highlighting of how class based US society is).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:38AM (#45324461)

    ...we even have a video game for it called Papers please! [papersplea.se]. Get it from steam [steampowered.com] to preview how your TSA screenings will be in the near future.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:49AM (#45324569)

    Wait, hold on a second... Why the fuck is a government agency unionized in the first place?

  • by qwijibo ( 101731 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:55AM (#45324647)
    After hearing of the guy who was left alone because he wasn't working for the TSA, it seemed like this guy wasn't just out for a killing spree or some anti-government nut job, but had a very specific reason to hate the TSA.

    I can't help but wonder if he was molested as a child and the TSA's enhanced screening procedures set him off. The TSA's official training materials specifically give tips on how to handle young children. It's interesting to contrast it with the training given to parents who participate in cub/boy scout events, so they know how to recognize inappropriate behavior and potential risks from pervs. Having done the scout training first and seen some of the TSA materials after, it really stands out as a how-to program for pedophiles.
  • Re:Nonsense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @10:01AM (#45324713) Journal

    Eventually they'll get to the logical conclusion that armed guards everywhere are the answer and circle back to conceding that the 2nd amendment might actually be the solution.

  • by MitchDev ( 2526834 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @10:08AM (#45324787)

    total elimination of the TSA

  • Re:Oh sure! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Somebody Is Using My ( 985418 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @10:24AM (#45324993) Homepage

    Which is an absolutely understandable request from the point of view of the TSA screeners.

    "Look, government policy is putting us in harm's way. We are now targets. We think we should be protected from loonies. Armed guards to shoot any such loonies is one method we might be protected."

    Assuming the TSA checkpoints remain, it is not a ridiculous idea and the union - nominally representing the screeners - are quite right to make this request since the welfare of those screeners is their business . The screeners themselves, however much they may be gaining advantage from the program, are not the ones who have created the policy that provides those jobs (and, from my limited experience with them, those I have met think the program is as stupid as we do, but one does not turn down a job these days). So I can hardly blame the screeners for making a fuss about the need for more protection. However, as citizens of this country, we have other things to consider, such as:

    - Do we want to turn our country into an armed camp with soldiers at every corner?
    - While the soldiers might help protect the screeners, will they themselves just be another target?
    - Are there any alternatives to armed guards (bullet-proof boxes for the screeners, or the ever-popular "arm everyone" meme?)
    - Is the TSA screening program effective and might it not be better just rid the country of the program - and thus the need for the armed guards as well.

    So rather than just lambast the union - and the TSA screeners - for making this justified request, perhaps it might be better to use this as an opportunity to re-evaluate the TSA program entirely in a moment when its supporters just may be more willing to listen to alternatives?

  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @10:24AM (#45325013) Homepage

    Don't get me wrong, the TSA are constitution breaking assholes, that do a million times more harm than even the theoretical good they could do.

    But, they are searching people for guns and other contraband. And when they find some, what are they supposed to do? Ask the criminal carrying a weapon to calmly surrender to the unarmed TSA agents (the most hated people in all of the USA), so that you can be detained without trial for the next twenty years and tortured for information?

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday November 04, 2013 @11:19AM (#45325623) Homepage Journal

    soooo... shooting happened, people grieved for a few days & nearly 1/4 century later few people even remember it (I probably wouldn't if I didn't work with people who were there) and there have been exactly ZERO recurrences despite the conspicuous absence of a bear patrol - go figure...

    On the other hand, immediately after the shooting there was a huge surge in the number of people seeking and getting Weapons Carry Licenses. So... I suspect that on an average day in a suburban Atlanta mall today there are a handful of armed people. I'm not saying that's what's preventing shootings, but I do suspect that it will terminate any that do occur in the future fairly quickly, as happened last year in Portland.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 04, 2013 @11:20AM (#45325649)

    Often the union and its members are not in agreement. A good example is here (Ontario) the union funds all sorts of political events. I somehow don't think that the majority of its members approve of this spending. When the government tried to pass a transparency law into union spending, the unions freaked out even though its members frequently approve such a law.

  • Re:NOT posted as AC. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday November 04, 2013 @11:46AM (#45325921)

    Give me a specific piece of anti-second-amendment (or even anti-gun) legislation that Obama has either proposed or actually signed into law.

    I'll wait.

  • Re:Mod Parent Up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @12:27PM (#45326447) Journal

    The problem is, we have a bunch of pansy people who believe that there is NEVER EVER a good reason to have an armed rebellion. These are the people I'm concerned about, because they are the ones walking us down the path of complete tyranny.

    I Suggest that people read the Declaration of Independence. The original "Boston Tea Party" was over less than what is going on now. There is nothing sacred about a "federal government" that is hell bent on ruling us with iron fists and jack-booted thugs. I just wish people would stop supporting this concept.

  • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @12:28PM (#45326465)

    In Germany in the midst of real constant terrorism in the 70s and 80s by the RAF, many Polizei would be roaming around the airports with submachine guns obviously displayed.

    No TSA, no taking off shoes, not liquid limits, no confiscating knitting needles, just a clear message that if you try something you will be hosed down by 9mm. They never attacked a German airport. But they did attack the US air base at Ramstein.

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @12:45PM (#45326693)

    Tell that to the two guys in Detroit who died last month when a minor incident of road rage between two licensed gun carrying drivers (with families in the cars) escalated into a gun battle where they killed each other.
    I assume that since they each had a gun that they each felt they could enforce their opinion over the other. When it turned out that they both had a gun, it escalated beyond standoff to death... not too polite.

  • Re:NOT posted as AC. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KingMotley ( 944240 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @02:04PM (#45327781) Journal

    Here's my solution to the problem: Remove the TSA agents.

    It was directly their presence that got an unarmed passenger shot. For the public safety, they should removed and corralled into a single location in the country, so that should another disgruntled, armed man want to shoot them, they will be isolated from the general public.

    Problem solved.

VMS must die!