Two Republican Florida lawmakers want to allow licensed gun owners to carry firearms in airports despite the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting that left five dead last week.
Five people died and more suffered gunshot wounds Friday when Esteban Santiago allegedly a gun he had checked on a flight from Anchorage, Alaska, to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, loaded it in a bathroom and came out shooting.
“State Rep. Jake Raburn and his gunslinging sidekick state Sen. Greg Steube have introduced legislation lifting Florida’s ban on concealed weapons in airport terminals,” said Paul Gale, of Bradenton, Florida. “These lawmakers want us to return us to Dodge City, Kansas, in the 1870s where gunfights were common in the dirt streets.”
Raburn and Steube are sponsoring a bill that could turn airports into shooting galleries, arguing that if it were legal to carry weapons inside, armed citizens could have prevented Santiago, 26, from killing as many people as he did.
“Had a licensed permit holder been one of those people standing right behind him, he’d have gotten one shot off and somebody would’ve pulled a gun out and shot him,” Steube said.
Steube is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which could send the bill to a vote before the full Senate soon after the legislative session begins March 7.
Steube’s bill, SB 140, would also allow the 1.7 million concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns on college campuses, in airports or government meetings and in public. Similar bills are pending around the country to allow guns on college campuses, airports, and government buildings.
Gov. Chris Christie loosened New Jersey’s gun laws, among the harshest in the nation, to expedite gun permit processing for New Jersey residents and to offer leeway for gun owners transporting firearms.
“I have seen far too many instances in my time as governor of otherwise lawful gun owners facing severe criminal penalties when they have no intent to violate the law in the routine transport of their lawfully owned firearms,” Christie said.
Christie vetoed legislation that would have banned .50–caliber rifles from the state, requiring domestic violence offenders to surrender firearms, mandated distributors to sell “child proof” smart guns, and reduced the number of bullets that can be lawfully loaded into ammunition magazines.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said he’s strongly against allowing more guns in airport terminals.
“I’m opposed to it, just as I am opposed to open carry in schools,” Israel said. “It makes us less safe, as it would hinder law enforcement by legally allowing potential active shooters to openly carry their deadly weapons right into airports to carry out their heinous attacks.”
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