A year before last Friday’s fatal shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport, federal security officials turned away a request by the head of the local airport-police union to ensure armed security was posted around screening checkpoints, reports the Wall Street Journal. The request highlighted a debate that has been reignited by the shooting: whether armed officers should be present at airport security-screening stations nationwide.
Such an armed presence was commonplace after the 2001 terrorist attacks, but it disappeared in the face of cost concerns and changing priorities. Now, the head of the union representing 45,000 U.S. Transportation Security Administration screeners has called on the agency to give weapons to certain employees and assign these personnel to checkpoints. Some experts said that raised concerns about proper weapons training. Marshall McClain, president of the 400–member police union at LAX, said he met in September 2012 with TSA chief John Pistole to express concerns about what the union saw as a general erosion of security. Also at the meeting were McClain’s counterparts representing officers at airports in the New York and Dallas metropolitan areas, who echoed the same security concerns.