A week after the shooting at Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida, which left five people dead, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) refused to comment on a tightening of the legislative loopholes when contacted by aeronewstv. Yet it was these rules that allowed Esteban Santiago, the former American soldier, to use his 9mm semi-automatic handgun after retrieving it from his checked-in luggage. The 26-year old, who has a history of erratic behaviour, is in jail awaiting trial.
As this TSA video blatantly illustrates, US law permits the transport of firearms in luggage provided they are unloaded, placed in a locked case in the hold baggage, and reported to the airline. Although this might seem obvious, more than 2,600 firearms were confiscated in 2015 at US airports security checkpoints. The same guidelines apply to ammunition, which are formally prohibited from being carried on board, but can legally sit in a suitcase next to a firearm in the hold. These rules clearly failed to prevent tragedy on 6th January.
European legislation on arms transport is similar, except for one important detail. An airline is not allowed to carry a passenger’s firearm unless it has obtained prior agreement from all the countries flown over by the aircraft in question, effectively enabling the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to significantly restrict the transport of firearms.