WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate voted Wednesday to prohibit federal funding for Amtrak unless it allows licensed gun owners to transport their weapons on the passenger trains by next year.
The measure, an amendment to the Transportation and Housing Appropriations bill, passed 68-30.
The House passed its version of that appropriations bill in July. It did not include a provision to allow guns on Amtrak.
The Senate legislation says Amtrak would lose federal subsidies if it prohibits passengers from bringing their guns on board under security
restrictions similar to those imposed on airlines.
Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said the railroad was working on a response to the legislation.
The measure was sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi. He introduced the same legislation in August as part of the budget resolution, and it was approved with bipartisan support, but the provision was removed during final House-Senate negotiations.
"Under current practices, all of the American domestic airlines permit firearms in their checked luggage. Other American passenger railroads also allow checked firearms," Wicker said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
"Only the federally subsidized Amtrak prohibits law-abiding American citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights in checked baggage," he said.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, was opposed to the measure.
"In order to receive any federal funding under this amendment, Amtrak would have six months to build a process for checking and tracking firearms," she said.
"It would have to find the manpower necessary to screen and guard firearms, and it would have to purchase the equipment necessary. Now there is nothing in the underlying appropriations to pay for any of that. So this amendment is going to put a severe burden on them and if they do not comply, Amtrak will shut down."
The amendment lays out the following security guidelines:
– Before checking the bag or boarding the train, the passenger must declare that the firearm or pistol is in his or her bag and is unloaded.
- The firearm or pistol must be carried in a hard-sided container.
- The hard-sided container must be locked, and only the passenger has the combination or key.