There was another mass shooting. Actually, if we’re nitpicking, there have been a total of 16 mass shootings in the United States in the less-than-three short weeks of 2017. Sixteen. Think about that.
The one I’m referring to is the Fort Lauderdale airport massacre. Before boarding his flight in Alaska, the gunman had checked a nine-millimetre, semi-automatic handgun in his luggage. After he landed in Fort Lauderdale, he retrieved his checked baggage, went to the bathroom to load the gun, and then opened fire near the baggage claim area. When all was said and done, five people died and six more were critically injured.
As we all watched video of this chaos live on TV and streaming on-line, Washington lawmakers, in their infinite wisdom, were formulating opinions as to what might have prevented this tragedy. And while I have heard several theories in the ensuing commentary, this little nugget stood out among the rest, for me.
A Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives told the media that a bill he had filed in the legislature might have changed the outcome of the shooting. He proposed expanding gun owners’ rights, to allow for the 1.7 million people with state concealed weapon permits to carry their guns right in airport passenger terminals.
His reasoning is that more guns in the airport would allow law-abiding people to defend themselves. It’s not like Florida would be a pioneer in this strategy, he pointed out; 44 states already allow it. And I quote: “There’s always the potential — if it were allowed and there were someone in that area that had a concealed weapon — that it could have gone differently.”
I can just see it now, the wild, wild west over by the baggage carousel. What could possibly go wrong? (Have a seat, I’m about to tell you.) Of all the asinine, hair-pulling comments that followed this incident, hoping an armed, civilian vigilante could fire off a few tragedy-preventing shots really takes the cake.
To point out just the glaringly obvious problems with this idea, I’ll start with reaction time. According to authorities, once this airport gunman pulled his weapon, the entire attack took about 60 seconds from start to finish. Would even the most clear-headed among us be able to assess a chaotic situation, formulate a plan, and then load and fire a weapon in that time with any degree of accuracy?
Which speaks to the second problem, accuracy. I guess we’d just have to hope that these airport vigilantes with guns in their belts were sniper-level marksmen, able to shoot through the hundreds of scurrying, screaming travellers to pick off the bad guy.
And since the good guys wouldn’t exactly be wearing hunter’s orange to stand out, can you imagine police trying to distinguish between two (or potentially more) gun-wielding figures as they stormed into that melee? What a disaster.
Is having more guns ever going to prevent gun violence? Get real. More guns is encouraging people to shoot other people. What kind of a solution is that?
I’ve written about gun violence and gun control before, and I’m sure my position is quite clear, since I’m not a gun user, owner, or advocate. I value safety and human life above the right to bear arms. Yet, sitting self-righteously in my opinion in small-town Nova Scotia is going to do absolutely bupkis about changing the U. S. constitution, I’m aware of that.
Even if it could, any serious debate about the Second Amendment degenerates into screaming, insults and recriminations, making it nearly impossible for anyone in power to come up with solutions that work. When I see pieces written about guns, extremists on both sides of the issue pipe up to the extent that the issue itself is overshadowed by vitriol.
I get that gun violence is a complex problem with many moving parts. And yes, if someone wants to create havoc, there is nothing we can do to stop them, ultimately – they’ll do it with a gun, a knife, a car, whatever it takes. But I will never support measures that will make it easier for people to parade around with guns. Until a system is in place that ensures they’re not in the wrong hands, why should we?