A tragedy struck the Fort Lauderdale Airport when a man who had registered his firearm before boarding a plane bound to Ft. Lauderdale, went to the bathroom after receiving his firearm from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and proceeded to murder five civilians. In the wake of the tragic shooting it is clear and obvious that serious reform must be implemented to tackle the issue of these types of rampageous murders — but not the reforms you might be thinking of.
Now, we can blame this on mental health; Esteban Santiago, the shooter, committed himself to an FBI office in Alaska after saying he heard voices of the Islamic State group (IS) in his head. We can blame it on the fact that he had only $10 to his name and had nothing to lose and a lifetime of free prison food and bed to gain. But we must not blame guns for being the main issue. Guns are not the enemy; rather the lack of airport security and proper procedures could have prevented the loss of life.
When I say guns aren’t the enemy I mean it. Statistics mean it. Facts mean it. Look at cities like Chicago and Washington DC where handguns like the one used in Santiago’s feverish attack, are banned. They have the highest violent crime rates in the country, excluding Detroit. Banning guns doesn’t work. Guns are tools used to save people’s lives. I will bet that if anyone else on the airport’s security team had a gun on them, lives could have been saved.
The TSA has a long history of lackluster security. They are confiscating things like replica weapons, opened water bottles and Samsung Galaxy S7s. TSA followed the proper procedures when it came to a registered firearm being transported. Santiago registered his 9mm at the kiosk and separated the ammunition from the firearm, boarded his plane and picked it up at baggage claim. And therein lies the problem. He was just given his firearm back after his flight. He wasn’t escorted out or taken through any other procedures as a precaution.
TSA is a necessary albeit tedious process we must go through for security, but after Ft. Lauderdale, it’s clear that TSA was just not up to the task and changes need to happen in order to prevent another tragedy like this from surfacing again.
The real enemy was poor protocol that can be improved. TSA will simply need to beef up security, ensure that travelers with firearms are escorted out when they receive their guns back and ensure that American airports will be safe from attacks. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that measures like this would be greatly beneficial to both TSA and passengers. Escorting the passenger who registered their firearm after they pick it up is a good way to both reserve the fundamental right of the Second Amendment and securing the safety of fellow passengers. We should not have a mandate to restrict firearms from planes, only restricting access to airport facilities immediately after they retrieve their weapon from the check-in kiosk.
Guns are a right in this country. Nothing should change that. But there has to be a line drawn somewhere. We can no longer allow another Ft. Lauderdale to happen. Changing protocol and adopting it while reserving the rights of American citizens is the true and honest way of handling such a breach in security and trust.