Delta Airlines has quietly rolled out a new policy for travelers who place firearms into their checked luggage, according to NBC 6 News.
Under the new policy bags with firearms will no longer be placed onto the general carousel for pick up but will instead be tagged with a special zip tie and sent to a service agent who will then perform an I.D. check on the passenger under the supervision of a police officer.
“Now, there’s a police presence there when there’s a weapon that’s checked and the police officer can monitor the weapon leave the building satisfactorily,” said aviation consultant Scott Patterson.
This new policy comes in the wake of a Jan. 6 shooting at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport that left five people dead and six others injured.
The gunman, since identified as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, retrieved a firearm from his checked luggage in a restroom before the killings occurred.
“Delta is committed to the safety of our customers and employees. Every day we look for ways to refine processes and procedures with the goal to improve safety and the overall travel experience,” said the airline in a statement.
Thus far, only Delta has made an adjustment to their travel policy with respect to firearms. No other airlines have made changes.
Time will tell whether this “extra level of security” is merely a PR move or an actual deterrent to bad guys with guns. One can argue that Santiago chose the airport terminal as a target because it was a soft target aka a gun-free zone.
In fact, following the shooting, Florida state Sen. Greg Steube and state Rep. Jake Raburn introduced legislation to allow permitted concealed carriers to carry into airport terminals, schools, college campuses and other areas where guns are currently banned.
“Those with mental illness and terrorists specifically target locations where they know law-abiding people like myself aren’t carrying,” said Sen. Steube in a Jan. interview with Yahoo. “They go to places they know where they can do as much damage and as much terror as possible until law enforcement arrives. I don’t think that should be the law of the state.”
Steube went on to argue that the status quo only prevents good guys from carrying firearms into gun-free zones.
“The law not permitting those from carrying at the airport sure as hell didn’t stop the criminals and the terrorists from walking in and starting shooting people,” he said. “It’s only stopping law-abiding citizens’ ability to defend themselves.”
It’s not clear at this point whether Steube and Raburn’s proposed legislation is making any real headway in the Legislature. But if and when it does, we’ll be sure to update the story.