by Barbara Peterson | July 22, 2019
Scene: The Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown L.A., where a conference on international law is underway. Judges from all over the world are among the attendees. A woman approaches the registration desk to buy a pass for the day's program. No alarm bells go off: Her demeanor is professional; she is well-dressed and carrying a briefcase. On-site registrations are not unusual for this event.
But soon her behavior becomes suspect: She is asking a lot of questions and seems overly interested in the identities of the other attendees, especially those in the judiciary. The registration staff calls security, and the would-be delegate starts to get unnerved.
Then it unravels: Security finds a loaded gun in her briefcase. Her intent was to kill one of the judges inside, according to a meetings industry consultant who was present. Police arrive and the would-be assailant is quickly arrested.
This incident, which took place more than 10 years ago, unfolded in the best way possible. Alert staff members, who had been trained for just such a scenario, sensed trouble and acted on their instincts; a tragic killing was averted.
In light of the rash of mass shootings we've seen in the years since, let's dig a little deeper. The U.S. has a patchwork of firearms laws, which vary widely by county and state. They range from states like California and New York, which have banned assault weapons outright, among other restrictive measures, to more permissive states such as Texas, which in 2016 passed a law to allow the open carry of guns in public, on top of its already existing concealed-carry law.
In many areas, anyone can legally enter a public space with a concealed weapon, as long as they have the appropriate permit. And while private businesses like hotels can and do sometimes set their own policies regarding weapons on their premises, these can be difficult to enforce.

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