On January 6, a passenger of an Air Canada flight, 26 year old, Esteban Santiago pulled a 9 mm handgun and began firing randomly at passengers in the baggage claim at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. During the massacre, he managed to kill five and would six unsuspecting victims. Though he was legally allowed to have the gun packed away in his luggage, according to Florida law an airport “passenger terminal” is one of the several places that law-abiding citizens are not allowed to carry a gun for self-defense.
Florida Statutes states that a “[concealed carry] license issued under this section does not authorize any person to openly carry a handgun or carry a concealed weapon or firearm into…the inside of the passenger terminal and sterile area of any airport, provided that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal, which firearm is encased for shipment for purposes of checking such firearm as baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft.”
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, “Florida is one of only six states that completely ban concealed carry at airports.”
Florida Carry Inc.’s Sean Caranna weighed in on his thoughts after the shooting.
“Once again a murderer has chosen a so-called ‘gun free zone’ to indiscriminately kill innocent people. Thankfully law enforcement was able to respond quickly, but tragically not before multiple victims were murdered,” he said.
Santiago lives in Alaska, where he was a security guard. He is also a former member of the Alaska Army National Guard where he served until August 2016 when he was discharged for unsatisfactory performance. In November 2016, Santiago paid a visit to the FBI office in Anchorage, telling agents he was hearing voices and being directed by a U.S. intelligence agency to watch ISIS videos. Santiago was turned over to local authorities and he voluntarily submitted to a mental health evaluation.
Yet, Santiago was able to walk into the airport with a legally owned handgun and spray the area with bullets. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he wanted to know how Esteban Santiago could have legally owned a gun.
“A conversation that needs to happen, certainly, is we need to talk about, as a country going forward … you know, people suffering from mental illness they’re not problem people. We all know they’re people with very real problems, but if they are suffering from a mental illness, or on a no-fly list, or are a convicted felon, they flat-out shouldn’t be allowed to own handguns or rifles,” Israel said.