After FLL Shooting, State Senator Stands by Bill Allowing Guns in Airports

After FLL Shooting, State Senator Stands by Bill Allowing Guns in Airports
Florida House of Representatives
Had there been more guns at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Sarasota state Sen. Greg Steube says, today's tragic shooting might have been prevented.

So he's sticking by a bill he filed December 9 that would allow anyone with a permit to openly carry guns in Sunshine State airports.

"I think it further enforces the point: People should have the ability to defend themselves," Steube said via phone this afternoon. Asked if he thought today's mass shooting could have gone differently if Florida's airport travelers were allowed to have guns, he said they "certainly would have had an opportunity to defend themselves."

Current state law prohibits guns in airport terminals. Steube's measure would allow weapons inside terminals, but not past security. Steube tells New Times he has no plans to pull the bill in the wake of today's tragedy. Steube is a Republican. "I filed it before the shooting occurred," he said, adding he did so to help protect Floridians.

Asked to elaborate, Steube says he believes active shooters or terrorists seek out "gun-free zones" because shooters know the people in those zones are defenseless.

"It's sad that incidents like this have to happen at gun-free zones," he says. "The airport is a gun-free zone. These shootings aren’t occurring at Publix or Walmart." (The question of whether gun-free areas encourage mass shooters has been part of a long-standing debate. Opinions typically fall along party lines: While most Republicans say gun-free zones encourage shootings, Democrats and gun-control activists say the idea is a myth.)

"Obviously, just like any of these shootings, this is a tragedy, and it's sad, and my prayers and thoughts go out to all the victims and their families," Steube says. He served as a state representative from 2010 to 2016 before winning a seat in the Florida Senate in 2016.

Steube's bill was set to be heard by the State Senate Judiciary Committee January 10. That meeting has been canceled.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.