U.S. Senator Charles Schumer on Wednesday will call for tighter screening of all employees at U.S. airports after a Delta Air Lines Inc baggage handler was charged with helping smuggle 18 handguns onto a flight from Atlanta to New York City.
Schumer, a New York Democrat, will ask the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to require that all airline and airport employees be physically screened every day before work, his office said in a statement.
While pilots and flight crews must pass through metal detectors at airports, the people who repair and clean planes, load luggage and work in areas beyond the security checkpoints do not get screened.
Schumer's office cited a gun-running operation exposed last month in which the baggage handler, Eugene Harvey, was charged with helping a former Delta employee, Mark Quentin Henry, evade detection with the guns in a carry-on bag.
Henry was arrested after arriving in New York last month, and federal agents took Harvey into custody in Atlanta, authorities said.
Kenneth Thompson, the district attorney for the New York City borough of Brooklyn, whose office worked on the investigation, said Henry had been smuggling guns on commercial airplanes for years.
Thompson has charged four men with conspiring to sell 153 firearms, destined for Brooklyn, Schumer's office said in a statement.