Reid: ‘Other ways’ to secure airports besides arming TSA agents

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that there are “other ways” to secure airports than arming Transportation Security Administration agents.

The union that represents TSA employees has proposed allowing some airport security personnel to carry guns after a shooting last week as the Los Angeles International Airport that resulted in the death of one of the agency’s workers.

Asked about the proposal on Tuesday, Reid said he was not sure allowing TSA workers to carry guns would make airport security checkpoints any more secure.

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“That's something that's being looked at,” Reid said. “I frankly say the head of the TSA, as I understand it, has said no, and I think there are other ways that we can secure the safety of these airports.”

Reid said lawmakers should focus first on make changes to procedures for setting airport security checkpoints.

“One way we could do it is have the same standards at every airport -- they're different now, and I think it would be much better if we had a rule in all airports as the where people leave, what kind of security we have there, where they come into the airport itself without arming everybody.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union, which represents TSA workers, has said this week that at least some airport security workers should be allowed to carry guns because they are frequently targeted after years of criticism.

"Our officers are verbally assaulted everyday; they're physically assaulted far too often, and they need better protection at those checkpoints," AFGE General Counsel David Borer said during an interview Tuesday with Federal News Radio.

"That's why we're advocating for a new class of officer who is trained as a law enforcement officer, has a weapon, has arrest authority and so forth to protect those checkpoints," Borer continued.

Reid said on Tuesday that he was still hoping to revive efforts to pass legislation requiring background checks for gun purchases. The legislation failed in a Senate vote earlier this year.

“I would love to bring it back up, but I can't do it [until] I have the votes,” Reid said of the gun control legislation. “And at this stage, I don't have the votes. We have to keep working the issue, but...it's shooting of the week, is what we have now. Problem is, last week, we had more than one.”