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Tragedy Gives Way to Familiar Back-and-Forth on Guns

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

When a gunman opened fire inside an airport terminal in Fort Lauderdale Friday, it was only a matter of time before tragedy gave way to a shockingly familiar political debate. Mass shootings have become a kind of litmus test for public figures in the US: Are guns part of the problem, or aren’t they?

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel didn’t hesitate to push for tighter controls on who has legal access to firearms.

“If they are suffering from a mental illness or they’re on a no-fly list or they’re a convicted felon, they flat-out shouldn’t be allowed to own handguns, or rifles,” Israel said.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said she’ll focus on raising questions about incremental changes to security at airports.

“You need federal background checks that make sure that people who shouldn’t have guns that they can’t get them, and those loopholes need to be closed,” Wasserman-Schultz said. “Whether or not we should allow firearms in checked bags? You know, do you allow people to travel with ammunition as well as their firearm?”

Others will call for more guns in more public spaces. It’s the argument NRA CEO Wayne Lapierre famously made in 2012, less than a week after a gunman killed 20 first graders inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Lapierre said at the time.

That argument has some traction among Florida lawmakers. Just a few weeks ago, Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota introduced a bill that would allow concealed handguns at public meetings, on college campuses and inside passenger terminals at Florida airports.