Paul Jacob

Ready for your flight? Got your ticket? Your government-issued photo ID? An ice pick?

Truth is stranger than fiction. The 9/11 hijackers are believed to have used box cutters to take over the airplanes and commit their evil — a tool, a weapon, which at that time was actually approved for carrying onto airplanes. Today, the Transportation Security Administration is looking at new rules that would again allow passengers to carry on similar items: ice picks, razor blades, martial arts throwing stars, bows and arrows, and knives under five inches long . . . which would appear to include box cutters.

The same Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that seems to delight in taking away our tiny nail clippers — to save us from doom at 30,000 feet — now suggests it might be A-OK to bring an ice pick on board.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to see the TSA relax some of its ridiculous rules. Folks may soon be able to keep their shoes on while going through security, and the days of harassing travelers for using one-way tickets may finally be over. No complaint there. In fact, I applaud the agency for any attempt, even a feeble one, to pay attention to flyers as people, as citizens, as customers.

But as David Marks writes at Blogcritics.org, "How is it 'customer-friendly' to allow scissors, razor blades, small knives, ice picks, throwing stars and bows and arrows on flights? Is there a great need to cut things, shave, pick ice, practice martial arts or target practice on a moving flight?"

Apparently, the TSA wants passengers to be better armed than pilots. The agency fought the proposal to permit pilots to carry firearms and then consistently dragged its feet in creating a system to evaluate, process and approve pilots. TSA even mandated that pilots go through an invasive psychological exam to carry a gun.

It never made much sense that a pilot already trusted with the lives of hundreds of people on the plane and thousands more on the ground should face such laborious additional scrutiny to carry a gun. Especially considering the gun was there only as a last-ditch defense against a maniacal mass murderer threatening to take over the plane.

Maybe government isn't really supposed to make sense.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.