The Transportation Security Administration may allow airports to ban firearms from terminals, parking lots, roads, and other airport areas where many states currently allow passengers to carry lethal weapons, USA Today reports. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has asked federal permission to impose an airportwide ban on guns. It is the first such request to TSA from an airport.
Federal law bars passengers from bringing weapons to or past airport checkpoints. But in many airports, state law allows passengers to carry guns and knives in unsecured areas such as a main terminal – often to airport officials’ dismay. A new Georgia law allows residents with gun licenses to carry firearms onto public transportation, including subways, buses, and airports. When the city-owned airport vowed to maintain its longstanding firearms ban, GeorgiaCarry.org, a gun rights group, sued. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) plans hearings next month on airport efforts to ban guns. A Hartsfield spokesman said that someone firing a gun in the airport would force a massive evacuation that could disrupt flights nationwide. Hartsfield, with 89 million passengers in 2007, is the world’s busiest airport.