Agency now has the resources to potentially arm airport screeners
November 5, 2013
Two weeks prior to the LAX airport shooting on Friday, the Transportation Security Administration was searching for a firing range to conduct ongoing “firearms training” using an estimated half-million rounds of ammunition annually.
On Oct. 18, the TSA posted a solicitation on the FedBizOpps web site seeking “a firearms range to conduct mandatory quarterly qualifications and other firearms training” near Seattle, Washington.
“The range must be able to accommodate the following: 9mm, .40, .357 caliber, 12 gauge and 556 frangible ammunition,” the request states.
The solicitation also estimated that 500,000 rounds will be fired by TSA personnel at the range per year.
This isn’t the first time the TSA requested a firing range.
Back in July, the agency sought a firing range “within a 20 mile radius” of LaGuardia Airport in New York.
The solicitation for this range also estimated that nearly a half-million rounds will be shot annually in the range during training.
The TSA already arms federal air marshals as well as “armed security officers” employed or contracted by the agency who meet “qualifications established by TSA, in coordination with the Federal Air Marshal Service.”
Yet these solicitations and the Department of Homeland Security’s stockpile of two billion rounds of ammunition suggest that these firing ranges will be used to provide firearms training to TSA workers who are not yet armed.
Yesterday, a union for government employees demanded that more TSA workers should be armed and even given arrest powers.
“The sad truth is that our TSA officers are subject to daily verbal assaults and far too frequent physical attacks,” Jeffrey David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said to the L.A. Times. “We feel a larger and more consistent armed presence in screening areas would be a positive step.”
If the TSA is moving to arm its airport screeners, the agency already has the training facilities and ammunition to do so.