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Posted: November 19, 2013 8:24 p.m.

Johnson proposes loaded gun ban at airports

Some U.S. House Democrats, including Newton County Rep. Hank Johnson, are proposing banning loaded guns in all airports in the aftermath of a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The Airport Security Act of 2013, H.R. 3484, would prohibit anyone – other than law enforcement and other specific officers – from carrying loaded guns, concealed or otherwise, in airport terminals, lobbies, baggage claim areas, ticket counters, and outside airports in pick-up and drop-off areas.

Travelers, those who have a ticket or plan to buy a ticket, can carry a firearm if "the firearm is unloaded, carried in a hard-sided container that is locked, and the key or combination to the lock is in the exclusive possession of the individual," according to the bill.

Under the bill, airports would also be required to post signs that clearly indicate they are gun-free zones.

"We live in a post-911 world where terrorists continue to look at planes and airports as prime targets," said Johnson, who represents western Newton County, Rockdale County and portions of DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. "It defies logic that we would we allow anyone other than law enforcement officials to carry a loaded gun within an airport? This bill is simply common sense."

If signed into law, the bill would expand Homeland Security’s jurisdiction to include non-secure areas of airports and would supersede any city or state laws that allow weapons in any airports nationwide. The gun ban would include public transportation stops within airports if the gun owner departs the transit station at an airport; if a person is only passing through an airport on public transportation, he or she would be exempt.  The bill has been sent to the House’s Homeland Security Committee. A similar bill was introduced in the Democratic-led Senate three years ago, but the measure died before ever getting a committee hearing, according to Southern California Public Radio.

Federal law already bars passengers from bringing guns onto planes or past security checkpoints in airports, but this bill would ban most people from bringing guns into airports at all. California state law already prohibits people from carrying loaded guns in public places. Co-sponsors include representatives André Carson of Indiana, John Conyers of Michigan, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Alan Grayson of Florida, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Barbara Lee of California, John Lewis and David Scott of Georgia,  and Jackie Speier and Henry Waxman of California.

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