Guns in the Airport: Worst Idea Ever?

I’m really not out to debate gun control here; I just want to point out what I think is a bad move on the Georgia legislature’s part – and I think some will agree with me, no matter how they feel about guns in general.

What the Georgia legislature has done, is – passed a bill that allows gun owners to bring their licensed weapons into airports, the so-called “non-secure” areas of airports. This, news reports say, would include airport terminals, the parking lots, baggage claim areas and more, pretty much every place that’s not governed by the federal government (such as security screening areas). At the moment, the bill is awaiting Gov. Sonny Perdue’s signature. UPDATE (6-14-10): The governor did sign the bill allowing guns in airports in early June.

Seriously?

Before we go further, a bit of background on me – so you know where I’m coming from, as they say: I’m Texas born and bred, and come from a long line of ranchers (as I child, I tossed around a lariat or two, though I doubt I could rope a steer today to save my life). I did, however, grow up around guns and learned how to hunt, as many in the Lone Star State do – and most of us learn how to handle our weapons safely.

But I think the very idea of guns in airports is a recipe for disaster.

Look, people are nervous these days, and understandably so, what with the Christmas Day bombing attempt on a plane, and the more recent scenario in New York’s Times Square. How nervous? A love-sick graduate student crosses an airport security line to grab one final goodbye kiss from his sweetie, and shuts down much of Newark Airport for hours on end.

Add guns to the mix and it makes my head spin thinking about all the security lock-down scenarios. Picture out-of-state residents traveling in and out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International (and that would be most of the fliers – after all, the airport saw 90 million passengers in 2008 alone) – one of them sees a gun, calls security and…well, you get the picture. And I don’t even want to think about a weapon accidentally discharging in a crowded terminal.

Plus, we’ve eased some visa requirements and spent millions on campaigns to welcome free spending international visitors to the U.S. – is this really the impression we want to make?

I remember my first trip overseas, back in 1990; I landed in Frankfurt, and one of the reasons the memory stays with me is, it was the first time I’d ever seen anyone toting a machine gun in a public place (this was a member of the military); yes, I was taken aback – even “spooked” a bit. I don’t know what I would have thought, if I’d seen a weapon carried by someone in civilian clothes, in an airport common area.

On the other hand, Georgia State Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, who pushed for the legislation, suggested this could be considered a way to keep people safer.

“Current law, right now in the state of Georgia, you can carry a firearm, if you’re properly licensed, into a shopping mall, into a bank, into a Walmart and many places around the state right now. And we’re not having incidences of random acts of violence being created by individuals who are properly licensed.” –Mitch Seabaugh, 4-28-10

Sorry, but I say – not in an airport. Not these days.

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Published: May 6, 2010