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)
  1. Burns NH

    Weapons should be able to be transported on any transporter but in
    a secure container provided by the transport authority at a fee and
    only in checked baggage,not carry on.

    September 16, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. Kevin B

    Something just seems stupid about this legislation. I pray that the amtrak passengers do not regret this law in the future..

    September 16, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. Jackson

    why was this needed?

    September 16, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. terry gallagher

    Have you ever seen the type of people who take Amtrak? This is really opening the door for rolling gun fights and murders. Nice job Senators!

    September 16, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. nyc

    Can't wait for the 1st 'cell phone user' vs 'gun toter'

    September 16, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. Steph

    I take the train, and NO!!!! I don't want to worry that the guy next to me is carrying! This is a security issue, plain and simple!

    September 16, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  7. richard in montana

    Oh goody, more pandering to the gun lobby. What, are we expecting the Indians to attack the trains again? Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!

    September 16, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. OhioGuy

    How is this a good idea?

    September 16, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. Sansom

    You mean we cannot have meaningful health care reform in this country, but the senate votes for bringing guns onto our trains and into our national parks with veto proof majorities? Jesus Christ almighty.

    September 16, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. Mississippi Miss

    Well done Senator Wicker. Wish we could prevent criminal behavior once and for all, but until then, thankfully we have the right to bear arms.

    September 16, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. Lisa P

    The ridiculous thing about this? Republicans still won't vote to fund Amtrak. They just clutter up bills with their ideological nonsense - in this case an invitation to come steal guns on Amtrak, which has few secure baggage areas. Idiots.

    Though I guess I should be glad we're not being "treated" to a round of conceal and carry, like the National Parks. Here's hoping no Republicans are reading this!

    September 16, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "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."

    Right, ok, and we're supposed to believe that self-reporting is the high-tech wave of the future in the security field? These preconditions are a nullity. They might as well have just told people to "go ahead and bring them, we're not going to bother to enforce anything or ensure anyone's safety." This bill represents the height of spineless Dem capitulation in the face of the GOP's virulent gun rights nonsense.

    Ever take an Amtrak train? That's right, you line up and get on without anyone checking your luggage or even having to talk to the people who merely glance at your ticket for 1-2 seconds to make sure you have one and it's the right train. Happy hunting angry gun-toting citizens, happy hunting...

    September 16, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. Shirley In California

    This is disgraceful! I am through with Amtrak. Whether they're loaded or unloaded a gun is a gun. It symbolizes violence. This was a poor decision and I hope innocent people don't have to pay the price for it. Sad day for America.

    September 16, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. S Callahana NYS

    lol there goes my trip to Vegas...

    September 16, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. Roger in CA

    I am not afraid to say that this nation has a serious collective mental illness that is manifested in an erotic fetishization of guns.

    September 16, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. vegage

    Ths country is all crazy, that's why so many killings every day. Following this trend we will see arms allowed in congress, courts, church, schools, beaches, airplanes, etc., it is just crazy.

    September 16, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. Laura in KS

    Oh goody...more guns in public. Well, at least it will be hard for people to keep saying the Democrats want to take their guns away. Of course, those people will still keep on saying that anyway. Seems like they've had the same talking points (taking away guns, socialism, "big, instrusive govt") for ages. Lemmings! I'm surrounded by Lemmings! The only plus side is that eventually, the Lemmings all rush off a cliff together...

    September 16, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  18. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    When in the name of God is all this nonsense about guns going to end? How many people have to be killed before we enact reasonable gun control? What used to be a bloody nose or a black eye is now a bullet in the head.

    September 16, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. Roger

    All right!!! That is so cool! Nothing like packing a little heat for the morning commute.....God help us all

    September 16, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. Beth

    Why do we have to live in such a gun crazy country. Europeans are not gun crazy. Canadians are not gun crazy. I guess we will never out grow our cowboy mentality.

    September 16, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Susan

    Hmmm, I thought Obama was gonna be taking all our guns away...weird how there are more rights being voted on for gun owners. Guess this should confuse all the right wingers.

    September 16, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. NYer

    seriously, are you kidding me? this is terrible, terrible news, and so dumb. congratulations, gun rights owners, you are exercising your right to carry a gun, and have made all of us non-gun owners that much more at risk. and scared.

    September 16, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. A Democrat of 51 years who has finally got smart to their follishness.

    THis is really wise now we can have some really old west shoot outs on trains once again. If trains why not airplanes, buses, and subways. Guns are needed ther also because the bad people will have them.

    September 16, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. B

    We apparently haven't gotten much past the 1860s in this country. No wonder the rest of the civilized world see many of us as- wild-eyed cowboys.........

    September 16, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. LW In Texas

    As long as the person has the right to have the firearm and to carry the firearm, no big deal, they have been though a F B I Back ground check as well as the State's Back Ground check. and it might save some lives and stop some of the crime on Amtrak..

    September 16, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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