Former chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), suggested that Congress revisit whether or not Americans should be allowed to travel with firearms and ammunition in their checked luggage after the recent shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport.
“There are two questions here, both dealing with the security of airports. We deal with these kinds of security questions and balance the ability of the traveling public to travel freely and as unencumbered as possible while at the same time trying to make sure we keep people safe from those who would wish to do them harm. We address those things each time after there is an incident that exposes a glaring problem like this one,” Wasserman Schultz, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said during an interview over the weekend.
To support her position, she said the federal government banned cigarette lighters on carry-on luggage after the “shoe bomber” incident. Wasserman Schultz also noted that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) currently limits the amount of liquid allowed on flights to minimize risks to passengers because of the individual who tried to use a “small amount of liquid to detonate an explosive device” on a flight.
“This obviously exposes it in Technicolor that baggage claim areas all across the country, I travel in and out of this airport several times a week and I’ve traveled all over the country. I’ve been in almost, actually all the major airports on this country and baggage claim areas are not secure,” she said.
Wasserman Schultz said the Fort Lauderdale shooting raises questions about the right of travelers to check firearms in carry-on baggage.
“The other challenge we have is you are able to check a firearm and the procedures here in place were followed but we most definitely, and I am going to go back to Washington and work on this, need to review the procedures – not only the question of whether or not you should be allowed to check a firearm when you travel at all rather than transport it in some other way, we need to minutely examine the question of if you are going to continue to do that, in what way are we going to reunite you with your firearm?” she said.
Wasserman Schultz mentioned that the Fort Lauderdale shooter was reunited with his firearm after he claimed his checked baggage before he killed 5 people and wounded others. The mass shooter, who has been identified as Esteban Santiago, reportedly went to the bathroom after claiming his checked bag, loaded his gun and began shooting. Authorities have not yet determined the motive of the shooting and it is not clear if Santiago’s gun was purchased legally.
The TSA currently allows airline passengers to travel with firearms and ammunition in their checked luggage. According to the official TSA website, “Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock.”
“It absolutely needs to be addressed,” Wasserman Schultz said.
Gun control is already a hot-button issue but firearms in checked baggage have not been a major part of the discussion. Wasserman Schultz’s comments are an indication that the shooting in Fort Lauderdale will likely ignite a debate in Congress over whether or not passengers should be able to travel with a firearm and ammunition in their checked luggage.