I landed at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport this week and walked to the Terminal 2 baggage claim. The smell of new carpet made me realize where I was. I was standing where only two weeks before, a madman shot 11 people, killing 5 of them. The victims were only waiting for their luggage to arrive on the carousel.
On January 6th Esteban Santiago-Ruiz arrived on a Delta flight from Alaska. He claimed his declared handgun carrying case at Terminal 2 baggage claim, then walked into the nearest restroom. Inside a stall, Santiago-Ruiz removed a Whalther PPS 9mm handgun and loaded it. He exited the restroom and walked back to the baggage claim area. Santiago-Ruiz removed the handgun from his waistband and began shooting at anyone in sight. After running out of ammunition he surrendered to police officers. In less than 2 minutes, Santiago-Ruiz had destroyed the lives of so many.
Although he made claims about ISIS influence, Santiago-Ruiz appears to be mentally ill. He served in the Alaska Army National Guard, and according to his family he had changed after returning from Iraq.
Santiago-Ruiz was arrested for threatening his girlfriend and told the FBI he was being forced to watch ISIS videos.
He clearly needed mental health assistance. If he had received it, he would have been prevented from carrying a firearm and this tragedy may not have happened.
The real problem, however, is how easy it was for him to arm himself inside of an airport.
There are plenty of people who want to kill innocent victims. Terrorists who watched this shooting will attempt
to do the same as Santiago-Ruiz.
How can this be prevented in the future? The easy answer is to prevent the transport of firearms on airplanes. But it’s not that easy. There are thousands of hunters, competitive shooters and Law Enforcement who have to fly with their weapons all around the country. Eliminating the transport of firearms on airplanes isn’t really an option.
So what is the answer?
Designated, safe locations to retrieve firearms is an option.
Firearms should not be retrieved near passengers, and those who checked them should be monitored much more closely.
Another option, which I believe is the best, is to prevent the transport of ammunition. Bullets can be mailed or purchased at several locations. They shouldn’t be transported on airplanes. The prohibition of bullets would eliminate the threat of another shooting like this one.
Whatever the plan is, something has to change. This shooting should force Authorities to change policies so no more innocent people die while waiting for their suitcase.
Photo Credit: CNN