Five people were killed and at least eight injured during a Friday afternoon shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport,
The state legislature in Florida was considering an open-carry gun policy - allowing guns to be carried on college campuses and at airports - three days before the Fort Lauderdale shooting.
Under Senate Bill 140 filed by Sen Greg Steube, the terminal areas outside of the secure area guarded by metal detectors would be clear for carrying firearms, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. Current Florida law prevents people with concealed-carry permits from bringing firearms into airport terminals, schools, colleges, courtrooms, bars, meetings of legislators and several other locales.
"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,” Steube said at the time. "That’s what we’ve seen, time and time again, and why I think we shouldn’t have them."
"I do personally feel like had this bill been in place already, there could have been the potential for people to protect themselves in that situation," Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives Jake Raburn said.
Five people died and six more suffered gunshot wounds Friday when shooter Esteban Santiago allegedly took a gun he had checked on a flight from Anchorage, Alaska, to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, loaded it in the baggage hall's bathroom and came out shooting.
In a statement released following the airport shooting, Michelle Gajda - a volunteer chapter leader with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America - said:
"Floridians have the right to be in an airport, a nightclub or on college campuses without the fear of possibly being gunned down. Right now, our lawmakers are weighing two dangerous bills, SB 140 and HB 6001, that would allow the presence of guns in passenger terminals in Florida’s airports. Today should serve as a reminder that guns have no place in such areas in our communities."
The Campus Carry provision is opposed by university and college presidents, police chiefs and faculties. In a 2016 address, Florida State University President John Thrasher vowed to continue the opposition if the idea resurfaced in the Legislature.
"I opposed it. I killed it," Thrasher recalled to the faculty about 2014 when he was a senator and lawmakers considered a campus carry bill. "I have worked against it since then and you have my promise that I will work against it this year also."
Open carry measures have failed to pass the Florida State Legislature in the past two years, but gun advocates believe that they might pass now that Steube is the Judiciary Committee's new chair.