What Lauren Poubert Gets Wrong About Air Travel After 9/11

DrDuring an appearance on FoxNews Thursday, Congresswoman Lauren Poubert (R-CO) dismissed the idea of ​​a common-sense gun overhaul after the recent school shooting, when a teen who legally purchased a semi-automatic rifle killed 19 students and two teachers in Texas.

“My firearm is my equalizer,” Poebert told Sean Hannity, before making what aviation experts say is a tantalizing analogy. “When 9/11 happened, we didn’t ban the planes. We secured the cockpits.”

“Her position is pretty absurd,” says Brian Del Monte, a former Pentagon official during the George W. “Yes, we did not ban the planes. But we also did nothing.”

In the aftermath of 9/11, the government, quickly and in a bipartisan fashion, made massive and sweeping changes to air travel — including a set of rules and restrictions for travelers that still exist today.

It began with an extensive investigation of how terrorists managed to hijack planes and turn them into weapons. “We had the 9/11 commission, which went through a huge number of pages of information and testimonies,” Del Monte says.

More from ForbesA Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official said: We have an “epidemic” of guns at US airports

What followed was a complete overhaul of aviation security in no time. “At the time, airport security was largely an outsourcing job,” Del Monte says.

But less than two months after the attacks, President Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Administration Actwhich created the TSA, an agency that now employs more than 50,000 officers responsible for security at 440 federal airports.

Shortly thereafter, in December 2001, after “shoe bomber” Richard Reid attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes on a flight from Paris to Miami, passengers were asked to remove their shoes at airport security checkpoints.

So in less than three months, plane passengers have gone from being able to walk through security a few minutes before a flight to having to show photo ID, take off their shoes and undergo security x-rays before boarding planes. Loved ones can no longer escort passengers directly to the gate to say goodbye.

And after other terrorist attempts came more restrictions. In 2006, after a terrorist plot to detonate liquid explosives on at least 10 flights from the UK to the US and Canada, airline passengers were further restricted, as the Transportation Security Administration banned all liquids, gels and aerosols from carry-on baggage. After a month, the base was diluted to create a 3-1-1 rule, which limits liquids and gels to containers of no more than 3.4 ounces in a quart resealable bag. This rule is still in place.

In 2017, after an “increasing threat to aviation security,” the Transportation Security Administration began requiring most travelers to remove laptop computers and other electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from hand luggage. Only travelers who have previously been screened with TSA PreCheck can skip this step.

More from ForbesTSA: US Travelers Keep ‘Forgetting’ They’ve Packed Loaded Rifles

As Representative Poibert knows, TSA officers’ main priority is to prevent weapons or explosives from getting on planes. Last year, the agency picked up 5,972 record-breaking firearms at airport checkpoints, the most ever — a 35% jump from the 4,432 guns found in 2019, before Covid-19 plunged passengers. Airmen.

Perhaps most worrisome, more than 80% of firearms seized at airport security checkpoints are loaded, according to TSA records.

Any airline passenger is permitted to travel with a firearm as long as it is unloaded and packed in checked baggage, separately from ammunition, in a locked bag and declared at the airline’s check-in counter. A TSA spokesperson said: “The airline will make sure to put it in the belly of the plane.” In addition, people who wish to travel with their firearms need to know the gun laws in and to the jurisdictions they are traveling to.

Notably, laws banning guns on planes have been in place for decades — long before the Transportation Security Administration even existed, and before the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001.

But the events of 9/11 changed air travel drastically. “The structure of the national security apparatus has changed in order to respond to and mitigate the impact and loss of life of such a terrorist attack,” Del Monte says. “If we’re going to do that with respect to gun violence, it’s going to require the federal government to take a serious look at why kids get guns and why they can go to school.”

Lauren Boibert’s office is closed on the weekend and cannot be reached for comment.

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