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TSA union calls for armed guards at every checkpoint

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After Friday's shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the union that represents Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents stated that the shooting proves the need for armed security officers at every airport checkpoint. USA Today reported Sunday that J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA agents, believes the shooting could have been avoided if the TSA had armed guards present. "There used to be an armed police officer at each security checkpoint at all times," Cox said.

"Every local airport has its own security arrangement with local police to some type of contract security force," said Cox. "There is no standardization throughout the country. Every airport operates differently. Obviously at L.A. there were a fair number of local police officers there."

TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez, 39, was killed on Friday while two other agents were wounded in the LAX shooting. Paul Ciancia, the 23-year-old alleged shooter was shot and wounded by law enforcement during the shooting.

Every commercial airport is currently required to have the TSA approve their security program. It is, however, up to each airport to make sure their security program is implemented. TSA officials stated that they don't expect an immediate change in their security, but that "passengers may see an increased presence of local law enforcement officers throughout the country."

TSA screeners have not requested to carry guns themselves, according to Cox, but they want armed "security officers" present at every checkpoint. According to Cox, TSA screeners face physical and verbal attacks often, but "there has never been anything life-threatening before."

Sen. Tom Carper, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, discussed the shooting. "As with any incident of this nature, there will be an appropriate time — after all the facts have been gathered and thoughtfully analyzed —to review existing policy and procedure to see what, if anything, can be learned from this unfortunate incident to help prevent future tragedies."

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