Lawmakers question rules allowing guns at airports
Lawmakers are taking a new look at rules about guns on planes after Friday’s airport shooting in Fort Lauderdale. Investigators say shooting suspect Esteban Santiago traveled from Alaska to Florida with the gun he used in the deadly rampage. The firearm was in his checked baggage.
Part of the surprise of Friday’s shooting is the fact Santiago arrived on an incoming flight — and so did his gun.
Last year the TSA reported confiscating more than 3,300 firearms from carry-on bags, but the agency allows guns in checked luggage, reports CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil. They have to be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container, and owners have to declare them at the ticket counter.
“We’re going to have to take a hard look once and for all at the unsecured areas of our airports,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said.
Wasserman Schultz said she plans to review security procedures with TSA leaders.
A TSA agent died in a shooting in 2013 outside a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport. The rules regarding guns in airports vary by city and state.
The National Council of State Legislatures has identified six states including Florida which ban people from carrying guns in all areas of airports.
“The law is only protecting criminals. It’s not protecting law-abiding citizens who want the right and ability to defend themselves,” Republican Florida State Sen. Greg Steube said.
Steube introduced a bill to allow owners with permits to openly carry guns in areas like the place where Friday’s shooting occurred. He suggests the 45-second attack could have ended even sooner if other passengers were armed.
“That’s a ludicrous suggestion. If someone with a gun in the baggage claim area opened fire in the midst of hundreds of people, the life loss probably would have been worse,” Wasserman Schultz said.
Every year, police in New York City reportedly arrest dozens of people trying to check in for flights with guns in their bags. Many visitors don’t realize it’s illegal to possess a gun in New York City without a city permit. But gun owners in other cities routinely fly in and out without problems.