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TSA delays allowing small knives on planes

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has indefinitely delayed its proposal to allow travelers to carry small knives on airplanes after severe blowback from lawmakers, air marshals and law enforcement officials.

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In a statement released Monday, the TSA said the decision to begin allowing knives with blades shorter than 2.36 inches would not move forward on April 25 as planned “in order to accommodate further input from the Aviation Security Advisory Committee.”

“This timing will enable TSA to incorporate the feedback about the changes to the Prohibited Items List and continue workforce training,” the TSA said in the statement.

The move comes one week after two bombs were set off at the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three and wounding dozens and refocusing the nation’s attention on terrorism and national security.

Knives of any length have not been allowed on flights since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers used box-cutting blades to take over four U.S. flights. 

The TSA announced earlier this year it would begin allowing short blades back on flights as part of a “risk-based” security initiative that would allow screeners to spend more time looking for higher impact devices, like bombs.

While the risk-based security initiatives have support, the decision to allow small knives back on planes was soundly criticized from many corners, including Congress, where 133 House members signed a letter to TSA Administrator John Pistole, asking him to keep small knives on the agency’s prohibited list. 

Lawmakers had introduced legislation to force the TSA to reverse course on the new policy, with Rep. Edward MarkeyEd MarkeyHillicon Valley: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle | Justices dismiss suit over Trump's blocking of critics on Twitter | Tim Cook hopes Parler will return to Apple Store Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids Give Republicans the climate credit they deserve MORE (D-Mass.) proposing the No Knives Act, and Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally H.R. 1/S. 1: Democrats defend their majorities, not honest elections McCarthy asks FBI, CIA for briefing after two men on terror watchlist stopped at border MORE (D-N.Y.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump looms large over GOP donor retreat in Florida Top GOP super PAC endorses Murkowski amid primary threat Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start MORE (R-Alaska) presenting a similar measure in the Senate.

Monday's announcement was cheered by lawmakers.

“By delaying this policy, the TSA is taking a solid, common sense step in the direction of safer skies. This delay acknowledges that permitting knives on planes is a bad idea; now the TSA should go the rest of the way and end this flawed policy all together,” said Schumer in a statement.

The New York senator urged the TSA to drop the plan to allow knives onto airplanes completely. 

“Anything less than a full reversal will be unsatisfactory for passengers and the hard working flight attendants, pilots, and air marshals who keep our planes safe every day,” he said.


A flight attendants’ union, which had strongly opposed the decision, hailed the TSA’s move, but also pushed for the agency to drop the plan completely.

“Knives were the terrorists' weapons of choice in bringing down four jetliners and murdering thousands of Americans. All knives should be banned from planes permanently,” The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said in a statement.


This story was last updated at 8:10 a.m.