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Proposal could allow people to bring guns into airport terminals

Florida law currently bans guns from being brought into passenger terminal

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As gun safety remains a hot-button issue across the county, it's become the focus of several pieces of Florida legislation moving into the coming year.

Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, has relaunched an effort to allow people to bring guns into airport terminals.

Raburn filed a bill (HB 6001) Wednesday that would change the areas of airports where people are prohibited from carrying weapons or firearms. State law currently bans guns from being brought into the passenger terminal of any airport.

"These people who would be allowed to carry are only those who have been licensed by the state. They've had training. They've been through the licensing process and they are the safest segment of our society," said Marion Hammer, a lobbyist in Tallahassee for the National Rifle Association.

Hammer argued the measure would not reduce traveler safety, but improve it. 

"Out in the airport terminal, there is no protection for you. And as we know, today, danger is everywhere. You should expect the unexpected," Hammer said. 

Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, had a similar take on the proposal, adding that less than 1 percent of all violent crimes are committed by those with concealed-carry permits. 

"One reason I think they want to do this, is the terrorist attacks that are occurring around airports, in the terminals and in the parking lots, that type of thing. That way, if someone does have a weapon, they may be able to stop the threat before police get there," Smith said.

Several passengers at the Jacksonville International Airport Tuesday had mixed opinions on the bill, but the issue for both sides centered around safety. 

"I think that's a terrible idea. I think we need to bring some more gun control, but having them in airports is a horrible idea," said Beth O'Donnell, a traveler from Maine. 

Bob Featherstone from Georgia agreed, saying people do not need to have firearms in an airport terminal. 

"I don't support guns in public places unless it's really necessary," Featherstone said. 

Another Georgia resident, Dustin Johnson, who lives in Camden County, had a different take on the proposal.

"Public safety is a main concern for everyone and it gives everyone an opportunity to protect themselves and their families and kids if a situation or crisis ever occurred," Johnson said.

The proposal, filed for the 2017 legislative session, wouldn't allow guns to be carried into parts of airports prohibited by federal law. A similar measure was filed during this year's session, but it did not pass.

Raburn's proposal is among several gun-related proposals expected to resurface during the 2017 session, which begins in March.

Lawmakers have already indicated plans to revive a measure that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on college and university campuses, as well as a separate proposal that would let license holders openly display sidearms in public.

News4Jax contacted Raburn's office in Tallahassee for comment on the bill Tuesday morning, but had not heard back as of Tuesday evening. 

 

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.