The shooting at Fort Lauderdale International last week has focused attention on the transportation of firearms in checked luggage. It is, of course, illegal to bring a gun on a plane, but it is perfectly legal to pack firearms in your checked luggage. That’s a fact that became tragically relevant last week in Florida, when a passenger retrieved a handgun from his luggage in the baggage-claim area of Fort Lauderdale International Airport, loaded the weapon in a bathroom, and began shooting.
Five people died and scores more were wounded in the January 6, 2017 attack by Esteban Santiago, 26, a former U.S. soldier with reported mental-health problems. The violence has U.S. lawmakers and others asking whether travellers should continue to be allowed to transport guns in their checked luggage.
“We’re going to have to take a hard look once and for all at the unsecured areas of our airports,” U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, told CBS News.
However, Florida State Senator Greg Steube, a Republican, proposed that laws be loosened to allow anyone with a permit to carry a concealed firearm to bring a gun into unsecured 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,” Steube says.
Some U.S. airports already prohibit guns in any of their facilities, but the laws vary from state to state.
According to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, guns may be transported in a locked, hard-sided container as checked baggage, and travellers must declare the firearm and/or ammunition when checking bags at the ticket counter.