- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
A year after the September 11 terror attacks, most airline passengers seem to have caught on that guns, knives and box cutters should be left at home, yet thousands of these weapons are still being intercepted, federal officials said yesterday.
Passenger screeners seized 62,000 knives last month, down 42 percent from the 107,000 found in August, a previous low since the Transportation Security Administration began keeping numbers in February.
And while 59 firearms were discovered in September, that, too, was down nearly 75 percent from 228 in July and 227 in August.
Approximately 2,900 box cutters were also found, 28 percent fewer than the monthly average of 4,000 discovered between March and August, the TSA reported.
Box cutters were banned from aircraft cabins after the September 11 attacks. Based on cell phone reports from doomed passengers that day, authorities believe the 19 hijackers used box cutters to kill flight attendants and take over the four planes.
"We've had a year to live with this and the word's getting out," TSA spokesman Robert Johnson said yesterday. "You need to know what's in your bag before you show up at the airport because it can land you in jail."
David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, said he hopes fewer guns and knives are being confiscated because passengers are learning the new security system and not because screeners are missing them.
"It probably is good news, but we can't tell from just these isolated numbers," Mr. Stempler said.
The TSA was created in response to the terrorist attacks. Congress set a Nov. 19 deadline for the agency to hire, train and deploy screeners to replace those working for private security firms.
Federal screeners are now working at 160 of the nation's 429 commercial airports, the TSA said. Some of the 160 airports have federal screeners at all checkpoints and some have them only in some terminals.
The federal screeners are supposed to be more attentive than the private screeners, Mr. Stempler said, and the remaining private screeners probably are doing better work because they hope to get better-paying jobs as federal screeners.


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