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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: T.S.A. security screenings questionably effective

Column: T.S.A. security screenings questionably effective

Airport security screenings are put in place to ease the minds of passengers while traveling, but in reality they only create the illusion of public safety. 

Travelers who frequent airports are familiar with the security and screenings of airports around the world. Transportation Security Administration officials have created guidelines for passengers in order to ensure their safety while traveling. The process of removing shoes, belts, coats and anything in a pocket is routine for frequent flyers. However, even after removing articles of clothing, having personal belongings scanned under an x-ray and having a body scanner, safety is still 

not guaranteed. 

On Jan. 6, Esteban Santiago flew to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport from Alaska, where he had checked a firearm. Santiago—who had reportedly followed the T.S.A.’s guidelines for flying with a gun—retrieved the firearm from the baggage claim upon landing in Fort Lauderdale, loaded it in the bathroom and then opened fire in the baggage claim area. 

Five people died in the attack, and many others were injured. This is not the first attack of its kind and passengers are likely to see changes to airport security in response to the attack. 

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Violent attacks in airports such as the Jan. 6 shooting have caused uneasiness in those who frequently travel through airports. In response to past attacks, the T.S.A. has increased security measures to ensure personal safety of their passengers, however most 

steps taken are only after a serious incident.

Over the last 20 years, security at airports has changed with passengers in mind. Each measure taken at these screening checkpoints is intended to give passengers the peace of mind, that while traveling, each person in the airport has faced the same  T.S.A. screening process.

Though the process of security screenings can often be long and drawn out, filing from one line to the next, personal safety is still not guaranteed. The problem with T.S.A. screening is that many of the measures taken for passenger safety are after an attack of a certain type has already taken place. Many of the guidelines passengers face today are a reflections of past acts of violence.

After Richard Reid’s failed attempt to ignite an explosive in his shoe during a flight from Paris to Miami in 2001, T.S.A. changed their airline safety regulation to include having passengers remove their shoes.Incidents such as these cause the T.S.A. to change airline safety regulation, but taking action after an event is a reactionary measure, to put passengers at ease.

Putting the politics of acquiring weapons used in these attacks aside, this is ultimately an issue of public safety. The reality of living in the U.S. has become the uneasy feeling that gunfire could break out in any public place. 

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Americans want to think their safety is ensured, especially after security screenings, while at airports. The reality is that still is not. 

The attack at the Fort Lauderdale Airport is proof that even after all the security screenings passengers endure and guidelines put in place by the T.S.A., a gunman can still find their way into an airport.

These acts of violence come from a select few, but the consequences fall on the general public.

It’s become a vicious cycle in our country of a violent attack on public safety, tightening security and creating a new step in the screening process to prevent a similar incident from happening again. 

While the screening process is most common at airports across the country, it’s becoming increasingly common in other public places including museums, tourist attractions and public gathering areas across the country.  

It might be seen as a hassle to some, but the reality of ensuring public safety in our country is having the contents of your purse checked and walking through a metal detector. 

Even then, our safety still isn’t guaranteed.

The screenings Americans face are a placebo to put the average American’s mind at ease. It gives the illusion every person is screened and that the establishment they’re entering is a safe place to be.

Security screenings are for people who don’t mind following the rules and guidelines of our society. If asked to search their bag for weapons, these people will comply. When asked to remove shoes and coats for screenings, these people will comply with regulations. The select few looking to cause harm to the public in a public space will find a way around security screenings, just as Santiago attacked the baggage claim area after having already gone through security screenings before his flight.

Follow Leah Gilchrist on Twitter.

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