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Response to Airport Massacre: More Guns in Airports

January 9, 2017

The blood had hardly been mopped up and the bodies removed from Terminal 2 of the Fort Lauderdale airport, when Florida State Senator Greg Steube (R-Sarasota; **semi-related sidebar below) announced that he would not withdraw a bill he had introduced into the state legislature to allow open carry of firearms in Florida airports.  The bill was scheduled to be presented to the senate Judiciary Committee on January 10.  [Note: It isn’t clear at this writing whether that meeting has been canceled or not.]  Given the current composition of the Florida legislature with pro-gun Republican majorities in both houses and a gun-loving Republican governor, the bill stands a good chance of passing.

At present, Florida is one of surprisingly few states that include airports in proscribed “gun-free zones.”  Steube’s bill would remove airports from the list of such zones.

According to Steube and other proponents of the more-guns-everywhere-makes-us-all-safer argument, mass shooters are attracted to “gun-free-zones” because they know that there won’t be armed civilians there to shoot back.  They claim that gun-toting citizens would be able to protect others in an active shooter situation by shooting the bad guy.

The flaws in this argument seem pretty obvious to me and to others who favor stricter gun regulations.  To my knowledge, the proponents of this theory have not been able to come up with actual instances where this scenario has occurred.  On the contrary, there have been several recent mass shootings where armed guards or civilians were present but did not prevent multiple killings, for example at the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. Mass shooters typically expect to be killed while making their violent statement, so the idea that the possible presence of armed vigilantes would be a deterrent makes little sense.  Armed guards (or theoretically open-carrying civilians) are often the first to be shot, as the shooter has the advantage of surprise.  Concealed weapons are likely to be not immediately accessible, giving the killer plenty of time to get off multiple shots before an armed citizen could respond.

Moreover, the likelihood of more casualties caused by “friendly fire” in crowded places like airports is very high, and there is no way to determine the malign intentions of someone walking around carrying a firearm until he actually opens fire. Law enforcement officers usually say that the presence of armed civilians causes more confusion, because they can’t readily tell if an armed person is the shooter they are trying to apprehend or a citizen trying to help. This was the case in the recent targeted shooting of police in Dallas. Seeing non-uniformed men carrying semi-automatic rifles in an airport would not foster a sense of security for most people.  My first instinct would be to call 911.

donaldito-gun-silencer

Donaldito firing a handgun with silencer. “That thing is awesome!”

In other news, the day after the Fort Lauderdale murders, the Washington Post reported that Donald Trump, Jr. (the slickest and, to my mind, the most repellent of the Trump kids) is backing a bill to relax restrictions on silencers for firearms. The bill, which stalled in Congress last session, is being pushed as a public health measure because it would “protect the hearing” of hunters.  It’s called (no joke!) the Hearing Protection Act.

The bill would end treating silencers in the same category as machine guns and grenades, eliminating a $200 tax and a nine-month approval process.

The implications for law enforcement and their potential and likely misuse by criminals as well as terrorists and mass killers are so obvious that they hardly bear repeating.  Just consider, for example, how many more people could be shot in a crowded, noisy place like an airport or a nightclub before everyone in the place realized there was an active shooting happening.

Watch this video (apparently made last September), in which Donaldito fires a rifle and handgun with silencers and then sits down with the owner of the silencer company to lament how unfair it is that he can’t use a silencer in “the People’s Republic of New York”. He then segues into a solemn discussion of how much better “Second Amendment rights” will fare under a Trump administration, while grossly distorting and misrepresenting Hillary Clinton’s position on gun rights.

Just try not to throw up in your mouth.

**Interesting Steube “family values” story:  According to the Sarasota Herald Tribune, back in 2011, then-state representative Greg Steube called the office of his father, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube, the morning of May 20 to report that armed intruders had broken into his Parrish home and raped his ex-girl friend (who was also the mother of his child).  After a frenzied investigation lasting three days, the ex-girlfriend admitted that she had made the whole story up.  She was never charged with filing a false police report, though 10 other people had been prosecuted for similar false stories during the previous year. 

 

 

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