Mass Shootings in America: LAX Airport

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A TSA employee was fatally shot on Friday morning inside terminal three at Los Angeles International Airport when a gunman opened fire with an assault weapon at 9:20 a.m. The shooter has been identified as Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23 years old, from Pennsylvania. Ciancia moved to California approximately 18 months ago and has no prior criminal record. According to LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon, the gunman “pulled an assault rifle out of his bag and began firing. He moved into the screening area and continued shooting.” Additional reports stated that authorities tracked down the suspect and shot him near a Burger King before taking him into custody. He was shot four times, including once in his mouth and twice in his chest; he remains heavily sedated with 24-hour armed guard protection at a local hospital.

The Los Angeles Fire Department reported that seven people were treated for injuries at the scene and were then taken to a local hospital. The TSA identified the victim as Gerardo Hernandez, 40 years old, working as a travel document checker. Two additional officers were injured and hospitalized.

Prior to the shooting, Ciancia’s father contacted Pennsville state police about a disturbing text from him to his brother. Although the incident is still under investigation, a note was discovered in his bag in which Ciancia stated that he “wanted to kill TSA and pigs,” and that he was a  “pissed-off patriot.” Witnesses reported that he walked from person to person, asking if they were affiliated with the TSA. The note also indicated that Ciancia thought that his rights were being violated by TSA.

State prosecutors have charged Ciancia with the first-degree murder and killing a federal officer. These charges makes him eligible for life in prison without parole or even the death penalty.

There has been a tremendous amount of loss. People are traumatized as one victim reported, “I’ve never been afraid like that.” Gerardo’s wife said, “I am truly devastated.” Moreover, the shooting resulted in troublesome flight delays due to the prolonged shutdown of the nation’s third largest airport terminal, which serves Virgin America, AirTran, Spirit Airlines, Horizon Air and JetBlue. After the shooting the terminal was out of service and all planes in the air were diverted to other airports. President Obama also took notice of the incident and expressed his condolences to the victim’s family.

Although the shooter has been arrested and charged within the criminal justice system, questions arise as to who is responsible, and how did the gunman manage to bring his weapon inside the nation’s largest airport? According to ABC News, one of Ciancia’s intentions was to display how easy it is to get a gun into an airport.

This is not the first killing spree in Los Angeles. A limo driver opened fire at the same airport, killing two police officers in 2002. In fact, several cases of mass shootings have caught national attention in the media lately. Another recent example is the Navy Yard shooting in which the shooter killed twelve people and wounded four in Washington, D.C.

Why has there been an increase in this type of tragic event all over the nation? There was a total of nine mass shootings last year at a variety of locations. Shooters have not explicitly targeted government buildings, rather, they have focused on sensitive areas in order to maximize the damage. Is this because of law enforcement’s ineffectiveness at security checkpoints or is it due to weak gun control laws? Whatever the reason may be, these incidents give a credible standpoint to all those who support gun control, but the question remains, are guns really the problem?

[Los Angeles Times]

Featured image courtesy of [Flobrio via Wikipedia]

Asim Mian
Asim Mian is a graduate of George Mason University. Contact Asim at



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