Increase penalties for guns at airport
By Sun Sentinel Editorial Board
6:12 PM EDT, October 30, 2013
There are certain truths of daily life that people know without any further explanation.
We’re talking basic, common-sense things, such as:
Smoking is bad for your health.
Texting while driving is dangerous and dumb.
You don’t yell “fire” in a theater.
And you don’t bring a gun into the airport.
It almost reminds you of the television show, “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” Problem is, many people in South Florida obviously are not.
It was reported last week that more guns have been intercepted at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport than at any other airport in Florida. That includes airports in Miami and Orlando, which accommodate far more passengers than Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood.
So far this year, the Transportation Security Administration has confiscated 38 guns at the Fort Lauderdale airport, in both checked luggage and at the security checkpoint. By comparison, only one gun was spotted the entire year at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Federal law bans you from taking a gun on a plane in carry-on baggage. Forty four states allow you to carry guns into the terminal and areas such as baggage claim. In Florida — the concealed weapons capital of the nation — guns are not allowed anywhere in an airport, though unloaded weapons can be checked in luggage.
Anybody who has flown, or has a read a newspaper, or has been on the Internet, or has watched TV should know the routine at airports. You take off your shoes. Put your cell phone, coins and belt in a bin to be scanned. Put your computer in a separate bin for scanning. Take off your jacket. No liquids over 3 ounces. Go through the scanners. Get your stuff. Recombobulate.
Yet for some inexplicable reason, for two years in a row, more guns have been intercepted at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood than any other airport in the state. In the last three weeks alone, several loaded weapons were intercepted at the airport.
“No rhyme or reason for it,” TSA spokesman Mark Howell told the Sun Sentinel.
All of those caught with guns at the airport this year did have concealed weapons permits. Their main excuse: they forgot they carried a gun in one of their bags.
How you forget something like that, no one can really explain.
The solution? Tougher penalties.
Right now, most violators are charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a first-degree misdemeanor, and given a notice to appear in court. Most people are then allowed to catch their flights.
Perhaps if penalties were tougher, fewer passengers would say they “forgot” they were carrying a gun in their bag.
How about prohibiting violators from making their flights, as a starter?
Taking away their concealed weapons permit for a few months, until they take a refresher training course, might get their attention, too, although the National Rifle Association would no doubt fight it.
And how about if everyone, before they head to the airport, took a few minutes to think about what they are packing and what they really need?
Kind of like what a fifth-grader might do.
Copyright © 2013, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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