Gimenez Opening Statement in Concealed Carry-Ons Hearing
Ranking Member Gimenez’s Opening Statement (as prepared for delivery)
Thank you, Chairwoman Watson Coleman, for holding this hearing today.
There has been a concerning rise in the number of firearms that TSA Officers have found at airport security checkpoints Nationwide. As we saw recently at the Atlanta airport, a passenger with a firearm accidently discharged their gun at the checkpoint, injuring other travelers and creating mass chaos and confusion in the terminal. Passengers evacuated onto the tarmac, flight arrivals and departures were grounded, and the individual who fired the weapon was able to escape the airport and remain on the run for over a week. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today on how a security incident like the one in Atlanta can be prevented in the future. It is important for us to learn what can and must be improved in the airport, TSA, and law enforcement responses.
The recent incident in Atlanta and overall rise in the number of discovered firearms nationally highlights the constantly evolving threat to our aviation system. TSA must ensure that its workforce has what it needs in next-generation Computed Tomography technology to accurately find firearms and other prohibited items in carry-on bags. TSA cannot continue to delay and slow-walk this needed investment to airport checkpoints Nationwide.
Our dedicated Transportation Security Officers continue protect the traveling public, day in and day out. They deserve better pay that is reflective of the immense value they provide to our aviation system.
I thank all the witnesses for being here today, especially Ralph Cutié, who runs my home airport of Miami. Pre-pandemic, the airport saw over 47 million passengers annually and I look forward to our business and international travel resuming to 2019 levels in the very near future.
Thank you, Madame Chairwoman, and I yield back the balance of my time.