TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Legislation to allow concealed carry permit holders to carry in the baggage claim and other nonsecure areas of Florida airports was in the works long before Friday’s mass shooting in Fort Lauderdale, but sponsors said the horrific event may help push the legislation into law.
While doubters say multiple guns will lead to confusion at a crime scene, the legislation's sponsor, Sen. Greg Steube, said there is no evidence of armed citizens being confused as the perpetrator by police at any crime scene in America where a concealed carry permit holder has shot a suspect.
Taking a gun into an airport in Florida is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. Friday’s rampage in Fort Lauderdale has given new life to an effort to allow guns in those nonsecure areas of airports.
“The law didn’t prevent a suspect from coming in and shooting a bunch of people," Steube said. "The only thing that the law did was prevent law-abiding citizens from defending themselves.”
The idea came before just one committee in early 2016.
“Forty-eight other states already allow this activity to happen, so Florida is obviously one that does not," Sen. Wilton Simpson said.
The legislation cleared the committee on a 3-2 vote, despite opposition from all 19 of the state airports. But Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon believes the idea is doomed again this year.
"Too many guns leads to things like this, where someone who is mentally unstable can do this kind of thing," Braynon said. "You know, I happen to disagree with people who believe that if someone had a gun (they) could have shot the man.”
The bill was supposed to come up on Tuesday in a Senate committee, but when there were not enough votes to pass it, the sponsor canceled the committee meeting.
But Second Amendment advocates aren’t giving up.
“The fact is, no one in that area was armed to stop this man who was simply walking around shooting people,” Sen. Dennis Baxley said.
The sponsor expects the legislation to come up in late January.
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