main article: airport security
Airport security measures were excessive even before 9/11, and they have only gotten more so. I have yet to see a good argument for even the restrictiveness of preventing non-ticketed passengers from going out to the gate (e.g. to be with friends or loved ones until boarding time) which was prohibited sometime in the 1980s or 1990s, and the additional restrictions imposed in the wake of 9/11 are not only dehumanizing but also do not even address the (possibly valid) issue of preventing terrorism from taking place on airplanes.
Dissolve the TSA
I think this is one area where the anti-government folks have it right (unlike their take on healthcare): airport security should be privately operated by the airports and airlines, and the TSA should be dissolved or at least reduced to the role of security advisor whose advice is non-binding.
It is possible that the TSA could have been a force for good if they had been working for us instead of the terror-war profiteers, but it was conceived in an era when those profiteers had pretty much seized control of the government -- and it serves their aims, not ours.
(Can we trade the TSA for the OTA?)
I think that disempowerment is the wrong strategy; I agree with David Brin that empowering (metaphorically arming) the passengers to be better able to detect and deal with the potential for terrorism to be far more likely to be effective than the current security theatre strategy of depriving them of anything which seems even vaguely associated with weaponry by halfway stripping them naked.
That strategy is not designed to keep us safe, but rather to make us feel afraid so that we will vote for yet more curtailments of freedom. (Studies show that people are more likely to vote Republican when they are feeling afraid.)
Although I generally favor gun control, I find the arguments in favor of arming passengers to be rather compelling. There are obvious dangers, and perhaps serious flaws I haven't yet seen, but this idea certainly seems less absurd than many of the measures currently in place.
If we could trade all the current faux-security for that plan, I would probably support it -- especially if:
- there was some mechanism in place to make sure that only those well-trained in firearm safety would be carrying them
- the gun-carrying was introduced gradually to minimize the damage if it turned out to be a bad idea
- the rules under which guns could be used onboard were very clear, simple, and sensible
- complete data on firearm incidents were published online and reviewed regularly by citizen panels with authority to initiate changes in the rules