Houston-area security expert appalled by ease of firearm retrieval at airports

HOUSTON – Witnesses are describing the terrifying moments when gunfire that killed five people and wounded eight others rang out inside the baggage claim at Fort Lauderdale's airport.

They say the gunman was able to reload at least twice before he ran out of bullets.

"He went up and down a kind of carousel to the baggage claim," said Mark Lea. "(He was) shooting through luggage to get at people that were hiding."

Investigators said the gunman retrieved his weapon and ammunition from his checked baggage and was able to arm the gun inside a nearby restroom -- a detail that is troubling to many security experts.

"You cannot have physical access to your firearm when you are traveling in the terminal with other passengers," says Hanan Yadin.

Yadin is a security services expert in the Houston area. He says an attack like the one in Fort Lauderdale is nearly impossible to stop with the current rules, which give passengers access to checked weapons at baggage claim or at the ticket counter. Yadin believes travelers should be able to transport their firearms -- but in a system that keeps the weapons outside terminals.

"TSA must find a way that once you declare before you arrive to the airport that you're going to be flying with a firearm," said Yadin, "there should be some way to secure it so you won't have access to it."

Security has been stepped up at Bush Intercontinental Airport and Hobby Airport, but the Houston Airport System's chief operating officer, Jesus Saenz, said they are working closely with the Houston Police Department and other law enforcement partners to ensure that the proper steps are being taken at both airports regarding overall security.

He adds that the steps will likely not be noticeable to members of the traveling public and are not expected to affect operations in any way.

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