September 16th, 2009
01:25 PM ET
9 years ago

Senate votes to allow guns on Amtrak

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.

Filed under: Senate
soundoff (65 Responses)

    Guns don't kill people. People with guns kill.

    September 16, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Richard

    One phrase...What the heck????

    September 16, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. LacrosseMom

    Why don't we allow the NRA to write the law, and then we will have guns of all types in every building, shopping mall, etc.?

    Locked & loaded, insanity in America.

    September 16, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Teresa

    Oh this is just rich! I won't be riding Amtrak unless they give a lie detector test at the same time. What a joke. Some crazy gets on the train, "says" his gun is not loaded and they're supposed to take his word at it? Right to bear arms? What about my right to love, peace and the pursuit of happiness? This country is going sooooo backwards. Geez!

    September 16, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. D. Tree

    I'm all for preserving the Right to Bear Arms, but you really have to question the motivations of someone who wants to see MORE people carrying them.

    I'm tired of people using this Right as a wedge issue and political prop – we don't need more guns in our public places.

    September 16, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. John

    I think this is a great idea. Let's see Republican Senator Wicker is more concerned with Amtrak passengers carrying guns on board than insuring millions of Americans currently without health insurance. Makes sense to me. John f. Reith Jr.

    September 16, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. nick

    the quiet car just got a little more serious.

    September 16, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. CitizenConcerned

    Great, there aren't enough gun homicides as it is so just allow people to have firearms 24/7 wherever whenever they want.. makes perfect sense.

    September 16, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. Robert

    As of today, I am a FORMER Amtrak passenger.
    There is NO WAY Amtrak conductors are going to be able to enforce these guidelines - locks, keys, only the owner - are you kidding me with this? They can't even enforce "quiet car" "guidelines," and now they're supposed to micromanage the transport of lethal weapons? Get real. More lunacy from the NRA.

    September 16, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I only agree with this only if the person is moving from one state to another. Why do you need a gun on a train?

    September 16, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. Cynthia

    Are you idiots serious? This right to bear arms is the most dangerous
    amendment we have. So anyone with a permit to carry a weapon can get on a train that travels around this county with it. Unbelieveable

    September 16, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. Don't blame me-I voted for the american

    No different from air travel, really. Problem is whether you have to check the bag. Most NE corridor trains don't have this. Also, nothing stopping aggressive anti-safety states like Jersey from sending a trooper on the train to seize what you already declared. Doesn't matter if you are in transit from one lawful state to another; they will seize it just to pad their stats.

    September 16, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Former Soldier!

    Wow. I guess I have to join the Brady Organization. This is out of control STUPID! Ok, gun rights are part of something called an AMENDMENT. That was something that the founders established because they knew what the wrote was not PERFECT and therefore allowed for amendments. Now, the era that the wrote that amendment required people to have weapons. They actually did hunt for food then. But, times have changed. Ooh, there is that scary word. And, we DO NOT NEED to allow gun rights advocates to make the laws. Have we learned nothing from Wall Street and now healthcare? Or, even from when we were children and heard the term FOX watching the hen house? Pun intended. The gun lobby is out of control. Do not allow guns on trains. We need common sense GUN CONTROL LAWS NOW! Time to change the arguement! Guns kill people. End of story.

    September 16, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. Steve (the real one)

    Ah yes, AmtraK! The government owned railroad! Kinda like Monopoly with one huge exception.. In Monopoly you actually MAKE money owning a railroad! I have a few suggestions for the new Amtrak motto:

    1. The new Amtrak, profitless since inception
    2. The new Amtrak, come ride us like we ride the government
    3. The new Amtrak, who says socialism doesn't work?
    4. The new Amtrak, no different from the old Amtrak, just new!
    5. The new Amtrak, Hey we produced more Vice Presidents than Greyhound and Trailways COMBINED!

    September 16, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Are the doors to the engineer's compartment locked and bullet proof like on airlines?

    September 16, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  16. rr

    People legally carrying concealed weapons or legally carrying one on a train or in his checked bags on a plan are far less likely to commit violence than people who do these things illegally.

    Anti-2nd Amenedment forces will say this will increase violence, but have no stats to back that up. It's not law abiding citizens we have to worry about, and this law favors law abiding citizens.

    September 16, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    This seems to be a fairly sane bill, why were their so many votes against it?

    September 16, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  18. Burns NH

    Dumb,dumb, a fire arm in a locked carry on,whether it is not loaded
    is not acceptable. No mention of the ammo not being in your pocket or purse. This is not acceptable as stated in the article.

    September 16, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. donna

    So some nut case can now take his LOCKED gun on a train, which only he can open ( DUH) and open it and start firing on people. At least on an airplane the gun is in the luggage compartment!!

    September 16, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Darryl

    This is insaine. When will people stand up to the gun lobby!!!

    September 16, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. Jay

    You have got to be kidding me. I have been on a train and you now how easy it would be for someone to load that gun and go nuts. I am so sick of this gun argument. We have the right to have them but we should not need them everywhere we go. The only reason you need a gun on Amtrak or the airplane is to shoot someone else who has brought a gun on Amtrak or an airplane. I am disgusted by a lot of what is going on in this country. We are too simple and we are too complacent sometimes to let those in power exploit our rights. They are only making this a big deal to get VOTES not because they care about gun owners. NO GUNS!!!

    September 16, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. Mary

    Is this insane or what???? We are not safe anywhere. The crazies have taken over !!!!

    September 16, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Sounds radical, but what if Joe Biden, who rode Amtrak to DC from DE almost daily while he was a Senator, felt he was safer with a licensed firearm for self-defense than without? Why should his choice of mass transit to work prohibit his lawful exercise of his rights?

    September 16, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. JonDie

    One less reason to use Amtrak.

    September 16, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Steve

    The fact that anyone would have to carry their gun with them anywhere they go, just proves we are a Nation of Fear.

    Really, if you need a gun to make you feel secure, then you have more issues going on in your head than your first amendment rights.

    September 16, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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