Just over a week ago, a gunman opened fire in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Esteban Santiago, the confessed shooter, killed five people and injured eight more. The gunman had purchased a one-way ticket to Florida, packing his weapon with him. He entered an airport restroom, loaded his firearm and came out shooting.
This mass shooting is the sixth in the United States in 2017. It began when Santiago retrieved his gun from his checked case. Just prior to the shooting, Florida lawmakers were gaining support for SB 140, a bill that would allow handguns to be carried in passenger terminals in Florida airports. Whether or not that bill continues its forward momentum remains to be seen in the coming weeks.
SB 140 was sent to committee three days before the shooting occurred. Lawmakers had high hopes for its passage out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. A similar bill had not passed, but the committee’s new chair is the person who sponsored the bill. Greg Steube (R) is also a proponent of removing gun-free zones.
When filing the bill, Steube had said, “If you want to kill as many people as possible before the cops arrive then you are likely to go to a place where law-abiding citizens can’t carry. That’s what we’ve seen, time and time again and why I think we shouldn’t have them.”
Prior to being passed into law, the bill must make it through different assigned committees. If it makes it through, it will be considered by Florida senate in March. Currently, U.S. laws allow people with the proper licensing to check unloaded handguns with their luggage, provided the weapons are declared and locked in cases. Ammunition for must also be locked away and checked.
Proponents of the bill as well as security officials are pointing to this incident as a major red flag in the passage of the bill. Would this shooting have occurred if handguns were not permitted to be checked with luggage? It is difficult to say as no one has the ability to see different scenarios in the past. Perhaps the shooting would not have resulted in such dramatic death and injury had someone else in baggage claim had a weapon. There are arguments on both sides of the coin and, if lawmakers have their way, those arguments will be heard in the senate in the coming months.
No matter how you feel about guns and gun crime, this story is sure to be in the headlines for some time and is one to watch. Whether this shooting will cause SB 140 to fail or push it ahead even faster remains to be seen.
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