Shots fired in a safe place


Photo by Lexie Rubin

Annabel Sanz, Issues and Ideas Editor

On the morning of Friday, November 1st, 23-year old Paul Anthony Ciancia walked through the sliding doors of Los Angeles’ LAX airport, up to a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint and opened fire, resulting in the death of 39-year old TSA agent Gerardo I Hernandez. The hours ensuing the shooting filled with nerves, impatience, chaos and most of all, uncertainty. Passengers were held in the airport for over six hours as California police officers detained Ciancia and secured the terminal, making sure the injured were taken to the triage area.

This incident, not the only one of many involving gun violence in the past two years, is the first case in which a TSA officer has been shot and killed. Nonetheless, it reignites the debate over regulating the sale of firearms and brings up the ever-present issue of tightening airport security.

Airports, with their many uniformed officers patrolling at all hours of the day, various checkpoints and high-tech full body scanners are considered to be one of the safest places around. No other public area- arenas, subways or malls are equipped with the technology to detect any weapons in the vicinity. Still, Ciancia was able to successfully pass through multiple checkpoints carrying a loaded firearm.

Just how he was able to accomplish that feat in sight of numerous TSA agents continues to remain in question. Was someone not properly doing their job? Is the already tight security at airports not enough to prevent events like this from happening? Airport security and the measures taken to ensure passengers’ safety has long been a topic of controversy. Full body scanners and pat-downs are too invasive yet not performing them leaves the possibility for life-threatening incidents to happen.

The reality of the situation is that no amount of preparation or enforced security would have prevented individuals, such as Ciancia, from harming others.  Determined with his mind affixed to the idea, Ciancia was set on arriving and killing people under any circumstances.

As always, safety should be highly valued and prioritized in airports and security should never be compromised. That does not however, constitute the need for even stricter safety procedures. Instead let us focus on the ever-present issue on the misuse of guns, a common link in the tragedies of recent years.

How is it that persons like Ciancia or Newtown shooter Adam Lanza- people who clearly showed signs of potential damage, were allowed such easy access to firearms? Regulating the purchase and use of weapons is ideal yet challenging. Banning them altogether is relatively impossible, nevertheless finding a solution to this growing problem is the first step in preventing other reckless, unnecessary tragedies at the hands of guns.