LAX shooting

LAX was experiencing its normal chaos on a Friday morning in early November. The check-in desk line was long and passengers’ bags were thrown onto the belt. Passengers ran through security and complained—all normal. Paul Anthony Ciancia, a 23 year-old Catholic school graduate from New Jersey, walked into LAX and took out an assault rifle. He opened fire in the airport, killed a TSA officer, Gerardo Hernandez, and wounded many others. Ciancia was shot in the chest after he continued to walk briskly through the airport. Saturday afternoon, a federal complaint was filed, charging Ciancia with murder and commission of violence in an international airport.

Eyewitnesses later stated that Ciancia had calmly walked up to people and asked, “Hey, are you TSA?” Leon Saryan, a traveler at the airport, said, “I just shook my head, and he keep going.” According to the Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, he had enough ammunition to kill everyone in that terminal.

Authorities are still trying to piece the case together as Ciancia had no apparent motive for shooting the TSA officers. Ciancia had no history of mental illness in New Jersey and his family members told the police that he didn’t seem troubled the last time they saw him. They also stated that he was a quiet kid in high school who normally kept to himself. Ciancia’s family did acknowledge that he had seemed unhappy with his move to Los Angeles and that they did receive texts in which he seemed “angry” and “rambling.”

When Ciancia was hospitalized, there was a note found on him when he was ranting. In the rant he constantly referenced anti-TSA and anti-government claims, as well as the New World Order, a conspiracy theory that international elites are planning to form a one-world government. Though his note focused on anger towards the TSA specifically, notably saying he wanted to kill the TSA, FBI Special Agent David Bowdich told reporters, “we are currently investigating his background and more about him” in hopes that more information unfolds.

The shooting has made officials rethink their policies, such as the positioning of police officers and whether they should give guns to the TSA. Recently LAX made the decision to move police officers from behind the TSA security checkpoint to in front of it, where they would take on the responsibility for both the arrival and departure floors of the terminal. According to the airport police chief at LAX, Patrick Gannon, “the threat … at the airport does not exist behind the security at that podium, the threat exists from the curbline on.” Also recently, police officers complained to the union about being bored with the assignment. This could have been why they were using their phones, iPads or reading books on the job, according to the TSA management. The agreement between the police and the TSA was that officers should be stationed outside the TSA checkpoint, but never more than two minutes away. Despite the officers being bored with their job, Gannon states that “they did what they were supposed to do.”

One possible solution to this grave shooting would be to arm the TSA officers. In the past, airlines used to focus their customer service on warmth and friendliness, but after 9/11 and large scale terrorism erupted it was clear that their job changed—it became about protecting people and getting them from point A to point B. The majority of travelers would insist that the TSA be armed to protect them from terrorism, but isn’t arming your public service workers contributing to the gun violence in America?

If a TSA agent has a gun then it would make logical sense to also give guns to other public service workers, like bus drivers. Giving these people guns increases the chance of actual gun violence; it doesn’t eliminate it.  Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security Secretary, states that he thinks it is “a big mistake, because you have literally hundreds and hundreds of police officers roaming every major airport in America, and I don’t think arming another 50,000 would have prevented this incident from happening.” A former TSA agent, E.T. Webster, is also not in favor of arming TSA agents. He states, “Who do you shoot at? There’s a crowd of people at these gates. You have youngsters, oldsters, and the whole nine yards. I don’t think that will solve anything.”

As much as terrorism is a concern, there is also a real question within America about gun violence. Gun violence is a major issue in the United States, as every day an average of 289 people are shot. A growing gun culture has had devastating results in this case.