State gun lobby implores lawmakers to allow weapons at airports

By Troy Kinsey, Capitol Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 28, 2016, 10:13 PM EST

In its drive to expand the list of public places where concealed weapon permit holders can legally carry firearms, Florida's gun lobby is imploring state lawmakers to allow weapons inside the non-secure areas of airports.

  • Gun lobby interested in guns being allowed at non-secure areas of airports
  • Newly-filed Republican legislation addresses the issue

Under newly-filed Republican legislation (HB 6001/SB 140), sidearms could be carried anywhere on airport property that isn't subject to federal security screening. Weapons would continue to be prohibited in passenger boarding areas, but check-in counters, baggage claims and pick-up/drop-off sites would no longer be gun-free zones.

The bills reflect the gun lobby's long-held argument that the presence of responsible gun-wielding citizens can help deter violent crime. As heavily-trafficked public facilities that have become top terror targets, airports face particularly challenging security issues.

And the measures join two other pieces of legislation, 'open carry' and 'campus carry,' that have been stymied in recent years by moderate Republicans but face much better prospects during the 2017 legislative session.

Concealed weapon permit holders can already carry guns "in shopping malls, movie theaters, doctors' offices, department stores...in short, everywhere they can legally carry, and they don't cause problems," Marion Hammer, the executive director of United Sportsmen of Florida, told a Florida Senate committee last year regarding the guns on campus legislation.

Still, critics point to the potential for delays, canceled flights and other issues unique to the often frustrating world of air travel to lead to deadly overreactions.

"My ex-husband had guns," said Molly Dunlap, a Minnesotan flying home this week from a holiday visit with family in Tallahassee. "His family had guns, and they would definitely be all over this, as far as carrying it, but I have seen and heard too many stories of things going wrong."