Should firearms be allowed inside airports at the cost of human lives?


Photo Provided

This is the scene and aftermath of the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting on January 6.

Megan Tran, Santa Fe Staff Writer

On Jan 6. 2017, a mass shooting occurred near the baggage claim at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Broward County, Florida. Five people were killed while six others were injured in the shooting.

Surprisingly, the suspect of this shooting, Esteban Santiago-Ruiz, was revealed to have traveled to Fort Lauderdale on a one-way ticket with one bag carrying only a small gun and ammunition, yet it raised no suspicion.

Santiago-Ruiz violated current Florida state law, which prohibits guns inside public areas of airports before security checkpoints. The primary problem lies within the mindset demonstrated by current Florida lawmakers who are trying to make Santiago-Ruiz’s action legal. This year, they are working to introduce the Senate Bill 140-a bill that would allow licensed holders to carry firearms, openly or concealed, inside all airports in the state.

Under this law, even people convicted of felonies-including violent criminal offenses- and people on the suspected terrorist list would be able to reapply and receive a permit to carry firearms anywhere the law allows, including airports.

Tragedies like this recent one emphasize why guns do not belong in airports. We know from experience that policies permitting guns in airports put our public safety at risk, but some states have still made it legal to carry loaded guns in public areas of airports. At best, these policies have created inconveniences and increased financial costs as a result.

Instead of demanding tighter airport security and restrictions on guns at airports, which have already been attempted with little success, it would be more effective to revive and improve the 1994 to 2004 ban on the manufacture and sale to civilians of certain assault-style weapons, such as certain models of AR-15s and high-capacity magazines of more than 10 bullets. Activities requiring guns, such as hunting, may be slightly more inconvenient as a result, but we must prioritize human lives over conventional activities.

It would also be wise to rethink our inadequate background-check system, along with better mental health screening and treatment. Since a large amount of mass shooters suffer from mental illnesses, it would behoove all of us to pay more attention to these diseases that contribute to the deaths of thousands of innocent people each year.

Our Second Amendment, which allows the right of people to bear arms, has not extended to airports for obvious reasons. The passing of the Senate Bill-140 could create a more volatile environment in one of the most sensitive places in our nation, and at worst, could cost us human lives.

During this year’s legislative session, Floridians must ensure that lawmakers do not respond by making the problem worse. Instead, stronger restrictions on purchasing guns and improving our background-check system will benefit everyone and could potentially save us from further mass shootings.