The attack that killed five people Friday at the Fort Lauderdale airport raised concerns about how to protect travelers and what place firearms have in U.S. airports, the Associated Press reports. Authorities say Iraq war veteran Esteban Santiago flew in from Alaska, retrieved a handgun from his checked luggage, went to a bathroom to load it, and returned to the baggage claim area to open fire. “There’s no question we need to review not only the question of whether people should be able to travel with their firearms even if they’re in checked baggage, but I think we need to take a hard look at the security around baggage claim areas, and not just leave it at that,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, whose district includes the airport.
Law enforcement experts say the baggage claim area remains one of the most vulnerable parts of the airport. Security is lighter and large numbers of people move in and out quickly. “An elementary school is harder to get into than a baggage claim at an airport,” said Chris Grollnek, a former law enforcement officer who specializes in security issues, especially involving active shooter situations. In the past year, suicide bombers targeted ticket and terminal areas in Brussels and Istanbul, Turkey. The only way to prevent such attacks, experts say, is to ensure the wrong people don’t get guns and to encourage the general public to alert authorities if they believe a friend or family member is acting erratically. Florida is one of six states that restrict firearms at the airport, declaring it a “gun-free” zone. Before the shooting, state legislators sought to relax those restrictions, arguing they prevent people from protecting themselves. Opponents of those efforts said having guns there would make them more dangerous.