What now? Airport Security Post Fort Lauderdale Shooting
On Friday, January 6, Esteban Santiago picked up his luggage from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport’s Terminal 2 baggage claim, walked into a nearby bathroom, took out his checked firearm and loaded it. What happened next has been in the headlines for five straight days.
13 innocent people traveling to Fort Lauderdale were shot by Santiago. Five of them died. One couple was traveling to Florida to enjoy a cruise, another were attending a friend’s 90th birthday. Some were returning home from a long vacation. None of them were expecting to have a gun drawn on them at an airport.
According to TSA’s guidelines for transporting firearms and ammunition, you can bring a gun on a plane as long as it is inside a hard-sided container, which is not easily opened, in your checked baggage. The traveler must declare the firearm to the airline when checking the bag at the ticket counter.
So to answer the questions most people have been asking: Yes, you can fly with a gun as long as it resides in your checked luggage.
Santiago did just that. He followed the rules. He checked the gun and 2 magazines in the only luggage he brought with him to Fort Lauderdale from Alaska, where he lived.
So, what now for airport security? Time and time again events have shown that while airport terminals are some of the most safe areas in a city, those areas on the perimeter are the vulnerable underbelly. We’ve seen shootings at arrival and departure sidewalks, we’ve seen bombings in security checkpoint lines, we’ve seen TSA agents shot and killed just outside ticket counters.
How do we secure this defenseless area?
While we’ve seen an uptick in officers patrolling these areas, not much else has been done as a result of these horrific events. I remember in the days after the attack on the Brussels’ airport, many security professionals predicted that we’d see a widening of the perimeter secured by TSA. That travelers and passengers would be screened before they even made it into the door of the building.
While this sounds like a good idea at first, it comes with its own set of problems. No matter where you put the security checkpoint lines, there will always have to be a place for people to wait. In some of the busiest airports, security lines can get backed up to an almost three hour wait during high flying times. These lines are in-and-out of themselves a soft target to begin with.
The first solution I thought of when I saw this headline on Friday was, “Don’t let anyone check a firearm.” I mean it sounds like a pretty common sense thing to me. If you need your gun to be somewhere, then ship it ahead of time. Is it worth it to check your firearm onto a plane if you know that others, less stable than you, can, too?
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Posted by Sydny Shepard on Jan 10, 2017