Five have been killed and eight injured in a shooting today at the Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida, a state with relatively restrictive firearms laws.
At 1:00pm local time, a gunman in his 20s wearing a Star Wars shirt opened fire in Terminal 2, killing five and injuring eight more. He is currently in police custody and, according to Sheriff Scott Israel, he was apprehended without any additional shots fired.
Florida has restrictive firearms regulations, especially for airports
The state of Florida has relatively restrictive firearms regulations for private citizens, particularly in airports, earning it a ranking of 38/50 for gun freedom according to the Cato Institute’s Freedom in the 50 States study. According to OpenCarry.org, Florida prohibits the regular open carrying of firearms for personal defense, requiring that weapons carried openly be on the way to a lawful target shooting or hunting expedition. Concealed carry is allowed only through the acquisition of a permit, which has certain eligibility requirements, including passing a training course and a $300 fee.
Florida is also one of only six states prohibiting the lawful carrying of firearms in airport terminals. This means that, in the event of an airport shooting, only police and security personnel are legally able to respond with deadly force. Private citizens must either hide and wait for authorities, defend themselves with a firearm and risk prison, or make a run at an active shooter with their bare hands.
Northern states with less firearms restrictions have experienced far fewer mass shootings
Mass shootings appear much less frequent in northern areas of the country with few restrictions on personal firearms ownership. According to the Washington Post’s The math of mass shootings, in the seven states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, only one mass shooting occurred in the past 50 years in Colebrook, New Hampshire in 1997, where five were killed and four injured. Those seven states have a combined population of 6.5 million people. Three of those (VT, WY, NH) are in the top five for gun rights, three (SD, ND, ME) are in the top 16, an Montana ranks in at 23.
Florida, meanwhile, has a population of about 20.6 million people, and suffered 90 killed in seven mass shootings over the last 50 years. Adjusted for population, those same seven states mentioned above would total 15 killed during that same time period. Even if the horrific Pulse Orlando nightclub shooting’s 50 victims are subtracted, Florida still ranks almost three times as high in mass shooting fatalities as the freer northern states when adjusted for population.