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In the wake of the recent shooting incident at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, the usual mainstream media outlets and politicians are circulating a flurry of new gun control proposals. Instead of ignoring the proposals because “this is Trump’s America,” let’s take a quick look and see what impact (if any) they’d have on actual gun safety.

Ban Firearms from Checked Baggage on Airplanes

The most obvious “solution” the civilian disarmament community: ban firearms from being carried in baggage. If the Ft. Lauderdale shooter had been prohibited from checking his pistol on the flight from Anchorage, he couldn’t have launched his heinous attack.

Firearms are currently allowed in airline passengers’ checked baggage provided that (1) they are unloaded, (2) the ammunition is secured in a separate compartment (like a cardboard box or sealed magazine) so that it won’t find its way into the gun, (3) the firearm is in a locked hard-sided container to prevent access or theft, and (4) it is declared to the airline on check-in.

Firearms are inaccessible to the passenger while they’re traveling within the secure areas of the airport and while on the plane. They’re only returned to their owner when he or she leaves the airport’s secure area (before TSA check-in).

While the police reduces the probability of someone flying to a destination and using their firearm for evil, it doesn’t significantly reduce the risk of an attack in the baggage claim area. (In 1972, members of the Japanese Red Army terrorist group retrieved their guns from baggage claim and opened fire at Israel’s Lod airport.) That said . . .

Baggage claim, as well as the check-in desks and curbside drop-off areas, are outside what is considered the “secure areas” of airports — where access is controlled by the TSA through security checkpoints. There’s nothing to stop someone from walking into any airport off the street with a firearm and opening fire.

That’s exactly what happened at Los Angeles International airport in 2013, in a state with some of the most restrictive firearms laws in the country. Prohibiting firearms from checked baggage on airlines simply moves any potential problem from baggage claim at the destination to the check-in desk at the departure end.

As with any gun control proposal, law-abiding Americans would be the only group affected by such a law. Hunting and sport shooting is a huge industry; tens of thousands of enthusiasts fly across the country to hunt. Not only do all of these Americans have the right to keep and bear arms (subject to federal state laws), but they contribute mightily to the U.S. economy.

If checked firearms are banned, hunters and sport shooters would need to ship their firearms ahead of time. Anyone concerned with their firearm’s accuracy, reliability, security and condition. In short, eliminating the ability for gun owners to travel with their firearms would inconvenience thousands and cost a fortune in lost revenue for small businesses.

Ban Ammunition from Baggage on Airplanes

A less restrictive proposal calls for banning ammunition in checked baggage. The logic here: if the Ft. Lauderdale shooter didn’t have ammunition with him, he would’ve been prevented from committing his attack.

While this proposal might seem more “reasonable” — passengers can still transport firearms while “doing something to increase safety” — it makes less sense from a risk reduction perspective.

Assuming a perpetrator wants to follow the same outline as the Ft. Lauderdale attack, they’d have a firearm. He could travel to the nearest Wal-Mart, buy a box of ammo, return to the airport and start shooting. Sure, it adds another step to the process which might increase the deterrence factor. But odds a person willing to fly across the country with a firearm to shoot up an airport is willing to take a 10 minute taxi ride to pick up some ammo.

For hunters and competition shooters the impact would be significant in terms of convenience. Ammunition would need to either be purchased at the destination or shipped ahead to the shooting range. This regulation would create more room in a hard sided container for more guns and make the bags a bit lighter. But the logistics of shipping ammunition can be a PITA. If the ammo package doesn’t arrive in time (especially in a remote area), that can ruin an entire trip.

Make Airports a “Gun Free Zone” Nationally

Another proposal: make all airports “gun-free zones,” creating something akin to The Gun Free School Zones Act of 1994. This proposal that has the approval of the disgraced former chair of the DNC) Debbie Wasserman Shultz. The logic behind this argument is that if we can make airports gun-free zones, no violence involving firearms could possibly take place there.

The problem: “gun free zones” makes people less safe. Countless incidents of firearms-related violence have taken place in “gun-free zones” from elementary schools to middle schools to high schools and colleges. Proclaiming a location as a “gun-free” does nothing to actually deter individuals who are hell-bent on mass murder.

While “gun-free zones” don’t increase security, they reduce the ability for victims of an attack to fight back. The best way to stop an active shooter is to shoot back. Whether the person returning fire is a police officer or a private citizen doesn’t matter — the bullets are just as deadly. The perpetrator is killed or delayed in the exchange of gunfire. Sometimes, the mere presence of a credible threat makes active shooters stop and turn themselves in to authorities.

Deliver Baggage with Firearms to a Different Location

One of the least effective proposals: segregate baggage containing firearms and deliver those items at a different location. While this satisfies the need to “do something,” risk reduction would be insignificant. Individuals who gather their firearms at a different location will still be able to load them up and walk back into the airport to commit their crimes. It would add maybe five minutes to the time between getting off an airplane and committing the intended massacre.

Make Baggage Claim Areas “Secure”

The final proposal I’ve heard being thrown around: add extra security to baggage claim. There’s two ways to do this, which are either cheap and inconvenient or expensive and quickly implemented.

If we wanted to implement a solution as quickly and as cheaply as possible extending the “secure area” of the airport to include the baggage claim would be the way to do it. Airports are currently configured such that baggage claim is at the same security level as the street out front. Anyone has access and there’s no security measures to check for dangerous items.

These areas could be treated as a “step down” security zone, one where you can access your checked luggage at the baggage claim but no unscreened individuals can enter and re-entry to the departures area is prohibited. Luggage containing firearms can be picked up at a designated location outside this secure zone, theoretically ensuring the safety of those still inside.

While this scenario maintains the security of those inside baggage claim it doesn’t help those in the check-in area or passengers waiting outside for transportation. It simply moves the location of the massacre from a relatively controlled environment inside the terminal to an open and uncontained environment. The perpetrator will still be given access to their firearm and be able to return to use it on other passengers, no matter how far away the new special firearms retrieval zone is placed.

There’s another problem with this scenario. It makes the pick-up process more complicated for many individuals.

Instead of waiting in the climate controlled environment of the baggage claim area, people meeting passengers would have to wait outside the newly created secure zone for them to emerge. In most airports, you’d have to locate the front doors of the baggage claim at the end of the secure area, forcing everyone else outside.

The better option: increase the security already present in the airport, supplementing the police officers on duty with additional manpower.

Ironically, the same politicians who think allowing private citizens to carry a concealed firearm is “adding fuel to the fire” and that “solving violence with violence is wrong” would approve of  adding government-funded good guys with guns to baggage claim.

Even so, adding more guns to the situation in the hands of good guys would reduce the response time to an active shooter and increase the survivability of such an incident.

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173 COMMENTS

    • I found and corrected a few typos in her message. I think she meant to say “Once again, innocent American were forced to stand defenseless against a mass murderer because Congress won’t stand up to the anti gun morons.”

  1. Where’s the “good” one that allows citizens to carry in airports and planes??????

    I didn’t see any “good” in that list.

  2. Oh, yes. Here we go. Let’s take the “gun grabber” technique and use it for our advantage. Really, old man, is this the best you can do? No discussion of combinations that could work? No declaring airports entirely secure areas, with numerous checkpoints for travelers to move in and out? No discussion (as in justification) for why convenience should shove improved safety aside? No. Let us pick a few narrow comments, and make superficial comments to satisfy our self-righteousness.

    You still have a right to “keep and bear arms”, but nothing says you may keep them anywhere, anyway you like, regardless of circumstance. If people are so bloody incompetent they cannot be separated from their guns for more than a few hours (ship guns to locations well off airport grounds), have those guns finally been identified as the adult pacifiers they actually are? Gun owners as “special snowflakes” who have not sufficient imagination to study the safety problem posed by corralled people (large crowds focused on the complications of modern air travel), and pose a complex solution?

    Given airports (or malls, or football pitches) are “target rich environments”, is it so difficult to manage a vision where dangerous people cannot get in to wreak havoc? The notion that “if you cannot stop all criminals (or about to be criminals) with guns from every attempt at killing large numbers of people, then nothing should be done atall is simply childish and selfish.

    (I really must learn to restrain myself here; you lot are making it too easy to expend time addressing the gun debate. Oh, so many attractions, so little time.)

    • I really need to stop feeding trolls, BUT….

      The only way to make the entire airport secure would be to have border patrol style checkpoints on all incoming roads searching every car, and all that would do is create a mile long line of cars full of people that could be easily mowed down or blown up. In short, any proposal would merely move the location of the attack rather than prevent or mitigate it, which would do absolutely nothing to help or save anyone.

      • Afraid not, chap. Roadways are not really much conducive to the style attack you imagine. Too crowded and congested, too many variables. People penned-up in a central area allows concentration of attack; much more effective, as we have been shown. Yes, inconvenience would likely increase, but to simply fall back to the fruitless slogan, “nothing to be done” discounts human life as to be nothing more than ten pens; not worth the thought.

        As to “troll”, it is simply amusing that when faced with opposite opinions, POTG become like those (am I overusing?) “special snowflakes” they so despise. Thank you for overcoming base instincts, and presenting a cogent thought about the implications of increased airport security.

        • Once again, you fail to see the obvious.

          Nobody’s saying “there’s nothing that can be done.” There is something very clear and obvious that can, and should be done — eliminate the “gun free zone” designation for the airports.

          • Yes, if everyone is armed and shooting at the armed people, things will be better. Once a crowd becomes unruly, the original instigators are often no where to be found, but the damage ensues, anyway.

        • Engaging in controversial and divisive rhetoric with the primary intention of agitating and eliciting an emotional response is the definition of trolling. Please at least be honest enough to admit your true intentions on here. You aren’t fooling anyone.

          • Hello there. I have never attempted to disguise my intentions…to engage POTG in spirited debate and exchange of ideas (which many POTG seem to have trouble conducting).

            If you and your mates get emotionally agitated, it is not because that was my intention. If you are saying that countering herd mentality and group-think is simply an exercise in twanging the string, perhaps you should take the wraps off your “special snowflake” banner and admit you are too emotional to have light shinned onto your thinking. Or better yet, if debate is too troubling, simply delete the comments. My feelings are never hurt by people who chose not to engage (or even engage, for that matter).

        • “Roadways are not really much [sic] conducive to the style attack you imagine.”

          IED’s and VBIED’s are the things of Sci-Fiction. They’ve never happened in reality and never will. No one has or ever will be harmed by one. They’re just pure fantasy.

          Further, in the unlikely event that someone did bend/break the laws of physics and create such a device it would be puny and unable to do damage past, perhaps a few meters. Something that could say…. take the entire front of a building off, kill 168 people and wound nearly 700 more is just laughable and if someone was to suggest that such a fantasy device might effectively level a building and kill 305 people while wounding 70-some… well, even Issac Asimov would cackle with laughter at such an absurd suggestion, right?

          • A pre-planned, pre-positioned attack on a fixed location can and will be devastating (OKC). IEDs as an effective weapon is problematic in modern Western cities. In “the sandbox”, you have thousands of people moving about, night and day, who are all possibly planting bombs. In Western cities, you may have a small group (Boston) who can manage a few IEDs, but you do not have a large portion of the populace potentially laying explosives along any given route.

        • Pull the other one, it’s got bells on…

          Roadways not conducive to such an attack because they’re too crowded and congested? The ideal target-rich environment is “contrarily” a penned-in lot of captive audience? Do you bloody read what you type before you hit post?

          • Oh, brother.

            Roadways disrupt, interrupt, interfere with mass shooting success. To the contrary, on the other hand, masses of people enclosed in a crowded, confined space make a more attractive and easily destroyed target.

            How’s that?

          • America (and other Western nations) are not an open war zone. The hiway of death was the result primarily of air strikes, which pose no danger to traffic in the Western nations.

            Yes, airplanes are a very good instrument of war.

    • What’s childish is to think that just because a gunman can’t “get in” to a secure area doesn’t mean they can’t attack outside the gates. Imagine a gunman at the World Series gate never getting past security and inflicting mayhem. Had far does the secure bubble have to get? There will always be a non secure area just outside.

      • As just previously posted, large crowds in open spaces are not the simple targeting proposition as large crowds penned in confined areas, plump for the slaughter.

        • Wow, so a large crowd standing in line to get through the first point of security isn’t a prime target. So your logic tells me the safest place to be is outside of a secure area in a large crowd. I guess you’re right because then I’d have the opportunity to be armed.

        • 2Asux,

          Your assertion regarding an “open space” versus a closed space (e.g. an airport baggage claim):
          (a) a large crowd of people in the open are free to escape
          (b) a spree killer would not be able to kill as many people in the open

          Your assertion is absolutely wrong. If an armed spree killer suddenly starts shooting in the middle of a crowd, the crowd itself prevents the members of the crowd from freely running away. Just as cars in the middle of a traffic jam cannot simply drive away, a person in a human jam (crowd) cannot simply run away. People would be tripping all over each other and they would be easy targets on the ground.

          • In the middle of a traffic jam, a car full of shooters is hemmed-in as much as the potential targets. If you’re of the mind that it is just as easy to kill crowds in a field as it is in a barn, you have never been to a farm.

        • False, the preferred weapon just changes to Bombs (Boston Marathon) or trucks (Marseilles or Berlin)

          • The bombings and truckings you cite did not result in anywhere near the carnage experienced in Paris or Orlando.

            Did they?

        • 2Asux,

          In the middle of a crowd, the crowd indeed hems in a spree killer … that is a positive for the spree killer and enhances that spree killer’s ability to kill all the people who tripped over each other and are now trying to wiggle, claw, and crawl away through the pile of other people trying to do the same.

          • Your description fits, whether in open field, or enclosed venue. My observation is that a crowd compressed by walls and doors presents a more attractive target than a crowd in an open field. Indoors, such as Pulse, the killer can simply walk about shooting at leisure all those who are scrambling, clawing, pushing. In an open field, the targets will present a more random distribution of targets, who are not constrained by walls and doors.

        • Wrong again. Casualties, that means WIAs as well, wereliable far higher than comparable incidents with guns.

          • Your posing that the casualties in Boston were higher than Paris or Orlando? With Boston, you must include wounded. Paris and Orlando were entirely deaths.

            I may have missed your intent.

          • “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Nice_attack

            nuff said.”

            Please compare and contrast the death toll in Paris and Orlando to the death toll in Nice.

        • I am comparing apples to apples — total casualties. The Boston bombing was all about placement. If they got the backpack in the middle of the crowd the death to wounded ratio would have been a lot higher.

          You infantry example is apples to oranges. We are talking about large crowds not a dispersed 40 man platoon. One wonders if you have ever been at an outdoor concert.

          And I have spent more time under indirect fire than you have had having sex — about 90 seconds.

          • apple: crowd in open field
            apple: platoon in patrol configuration, or in defensive positions

            apple: crowd crammed in confined venue with few exits
            apple: platoon crammed into small, one-story mud home in “the sandbox”

            apple: event; armed shooter
            apple: event; artillery shell explodes amidst patrol or house

            comparison: which will more likely result in more deaths? large number of people crammed in a small venue, or large number of people congested in an open space

            the analogy is valid.

      • Yes I am. Casualties = KIA+MIA+WIA. There were 270 casualties in Boston. An the Marseilles truck attack had far more deaths and injuries than Orlando and was comperable to Paris in toral casualties. Berlin exceeded Charlie Hebdo.

        • Let’s compare like to like: death to death. (Hebdo was not in mind when citing Paris).

          If you insist on including injury, we must compare sample sizes. What was the audience count in each location? If there is an audience of 500, and 100 are killed, that is a greater ratio than 130 in a crowd of 5000. And so on. What was the size of the street-level crowd at the Boston bombing? (I do not have that figure) I suspect it was thousands. How many racers were on the street at the time of the bombing? What is that ratio?

          Inescapable, when people can flee, the total carnage is less than when they cannot. So in Nice, if the crowd was 20,000 how many (and what ratio) were able to escape being attacked? In Orlando, how many were able to escape?

          How can this be so difficult? When you lock people into a compact space, the amount of damage a single attack can inflict is naturally larger than when people in open spaces are confronted with attack. Go as an infantry officer if his platoon is more likely to be annihilated by a single artillery round if the platoon in enclosed in a single building, versus a platoon deployed in patrol or defensive positions outdoors.

    • You still have a right to “keep and bear arms”, but nothing says you may keep them anywhere, anyway you like, regardless of circumstance

      Shall not be infringed! You liberals better strap in the rides going to get bumpy.

      • Oh please. Every “right” is constrained in some manner. There are no absolutes, mate. If it weren’t so, the US constitution could never be amended. The founders knew, recognized and accepted that life is too complex to set down immutable phrases and clauses.

        Not in a hundred lifetimes will you get a Supreme Court ruling that the second amendment is permanently and immovably “absolute”, in any and all circumstances. We’ve had this discussion. Once any limit is placed on a “right” is is not absolute, but merely constrained a bit by “reasonable restrictions” of the type determined most appropriate by the majority of voters (whatever venue). At that point, we are no longer discussing the woman’s virtue, but merely negotiating price.

          • “…that bullshit” being that the founders did not construct a constitution with provision for amendment? .

            If the founders had not recognized that they could not adequately foretell the future, would not the constitution declare itself immutable, unchangeable?

            Prior to Prohibition, Americans had the “natural, civil and human right” to possess and drink alcoholic beverages. Then that “right” was removed by subsequent amendment. And the “right” was reasserted, again by amendment. So much for “absolute rights”. So much for “rights” not being constrained.

    • You can crack down on security and location all you want – you’ll only move the massacre somewhere else. The root problem must be addressed, and if it cannot be, then reality must be accepted.

      • “The root problem must be addressed.”

        Hear, hear !

        The root of the problem is too many clearly dangerous people can too easily obtain firearms to the great endangerment of the public.

        • So does that mean you leftists are going to backtrack on deinstitutionalisation?

          The root of the problem is too many clearly dangerous people can too easily obtain firearms?

          The root problem is there are crazy people who sometimes seek to hurt others. The root problem is there are sometimes non-crazy people who want to hurt others. Another problem is sometimes government wants to coerce people by leveraging a gun into their discussions. Another root problem is technology and how today there are 3D polymer printers and tomorrow there will be 3D sintering printers. The problem is you can’t control everyone and everything. There is another problem in that controlling everyone and everything isn’t moral. Maybe you need to accept those.

          • “So does that mean you leftists are going to backtrack on deinstitutionalisation?”

            Of course not. What a silly notion. Those facing mental health challenges need more community support to help them cope, recover, learn more appropriate social skills. Understanding mental illness, after all this time, is still a long way in the future, things being left as they are.

        • Really, 2sux? I expect better from you.

          This is the easiest to refute, and lamest gun control argument ever. It has been roundly, thoroughly, and completely disproven by ISIS worldwide. If guns don’t exist, they will use suicide vests, or machetes, or really big trucks, or bombs. Or a can of gas and a match. In fact, the Nice attack in France killed twice as many people as the Orlando nightclub shooting, in far less time.

          You were so close too. You had hit on the real question… “The root of the problem is too many clearly dangerous people “. Yes. That is the root of the problem. It is not the gun, or the access to it. It is the guy who walks into the FBI’s office and tells them that he’s hearing voices telling him to fight for ISIS, and they send him to a mental hospital, and then THEY TURN HIM LOOSE TO WALK AROUND IN SOCIETY, AND GIVE HIS GUN BACK TO HIM.

          THAT is the problem. Just like Chicago is not a problem of “gun availability”, it’s a problem of letting known dangerous violent felons loose in society.

          • We don’t actually disagree. The Florida shooter should have been inducted into the mental health system, and his guns confiscated. The assignment to mental health treatment would take the immediate threat (firearms) out of the equation. Treatment would also separate the patient from all dangerous weapons (tools of any sort) for the duration of treatment. Once determined no longer a threat, the patient could be re-integrated into society, with new social skills negating the need for weapons to attack others.

        • I think this is where we differ.

          While those who present a danger to themselves and others should be restrained in their access to weapons, I suspect that this is not the root cause. Removing access to firearms does nothing to stop the lazy criminal from producing napalm or TATP (although the volatility of the latter may solve the problem before harming others). The more enterprising will certainly find more ways to harm.

          There is a root cause that sparks different varieties of crime, but misuse of firearms is a symptom. Limiting access might mitigate that one symptom, but doesn’t resolve the underlying disease.

          • Actually, we agree.

            Removing firearms from people needing mental health care does mitigate one symptom, historically the most devastating in impact and number of events. If you take another look at my response, I noted the root is “people” who shouldn’t have firearms in hand, or available. There is no reason that mental health treatment should not include removal of firearms. The lack of access to firearms does not lessen the effectiveness of any course approved mental health treatment. Indeed, you have the example of the misguided belief that people with mental health issues should, indeed, have firearms, and use them (Chris Kyle).

        • Treatment would also separate the patient from all dangerous weapons (tools of any sort) for the duration of treatment.

          So does that mean you leftists are going to backtrack on deinstitutionalisation?