Recently, one of our lawmakers introduced a bill to ban guns from airports, which begs the question “Is this the right thing to do?” (read the full article) I find this to be an interesting question. Let’s hear some feedback. I live in Colorado, a State that’s experienced both Columbine and the Aurora movie theater shooting, and I was one of many PIO’s at the time, that assisted post-Columbine (minimally – I claim no fame to this, I was just one of a team fielding phone calls the following day). And, I do have a CCW permit, I do own guns and I do carry from time to time. Also, I’ve been criticized in the past for saying that some (SOME) airport police departments need to step up their presence and preparedness at airports, and that they need more support from policy-makers in terms of equipment, training and personnel.
I’d like to hear from the community itself. What do airport police think about this?
People ask why I carry. Well, we live in a dangerous world and it’s easier to carry a concealed weapon than it is to carry a police officer on my hip. Cops are heavier and more bulky than guns, they take up an extra seat in the car forcing my wife to sit in back, and they keep wanting to stop at Starbucks. Oh, and we live in a world where people walk into malls, airports and churches, and shoot people.
At an airport though, it’s a different environment. There are more cops at airports than pretty much any other venue, except the police station. I actually feel safest at an airport, when I walk in and there are police around, in uniform, properly equipped with weaponry and body armor and that can actualy respond to an active shooter threat, and most importantly, they are watching for threats – they are at condition Yellow, paying attention to their surroundings and looking for threats. Retired Marine Lt. Col Jeff Cooper developed a system of awareness he called the Color Code. Condition Yellow means the person understands their life is in danger and it psychologically prepared to take action. I get a little nervous when I don’t see any police or homeland security agents (the ones that carry guns) in the airport. There may still be undercover officers in the crowd, but the uniform has an additional benefit of deterrence. I also don’t feel that confident when I see airport police that are in Condition White, not paying attention and not looking for threats.
So, do I want to be able to carry a gun into the public areas of an airport?
If the police are as described in Condition Yellow, then probably not. I want them focused on the real threat while I take cover. I imagine it’s hard enough to make the decision to shoot someone without having to figure out if you’re about to take down an active shooter or a citizen whose trying to help. If the police are in Condition White, well, then probably yes, because in Condition White, while wearing a police uniform, you’re likely the first to get shot, leaving everyone else unarmed and running for their lives.
Another consideration – when police respond to an active shooter they also have to be aware of plain-clothes air marshals that may be in the crowd, other federal agents traveling armed, other undercover officers who may be on surveillance, and pilots who are Federal Flight Deck Officers and have their guns nearby.
My answer is unclear because of the aforementioned factors. While this may not be the right thing to do, when I see someone with a gun, I subconcsiously keep an eye out. Do police do the same thing? Would they be distracted by persons they see carrying guns and miss the real threat? Does it give them too much to focus on? The other day at a home improvement store, I saw a man walking out of the store, when he leaned forward over his shopping cart, and revealed his concealed weapon. I continued to keep an eye on him, but frankly it was for other reasons. He looked pretty shady. I’ve seen other people with a concealed (you learn to spot the signs) and not had an issue.
How do police officers respond when they see a citizen wearing a firearm, open carry, and what’s the general police opinion here on the issue of carrying openly or concealed inside the public areas of the airport?
I know there are a lot of current and former police officer friends on this feed, so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Airport directors, you too. What’s your opinion here?