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metsfan

Senate passes measure to allow gun transport on Amtrak

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Amtrak would lose its federal subsidies if it doesn't put a system in place by early next year to check and track firearms so that passengers can legally put the weapons in their checked baggage, the Senate voted Wednesday.

 

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One senator says the measure "is going to put a severe burden" on Amtrak.

 

The measure, an amendment to the transportation and housing appropriations bill, passed 68-30.

 

The House version of the bill, passed in July, does not include the provision, so further steps would be needed for it to reach President Obama's desk.

 

Amtrak's current policy prohibits passengers from carrying "any type of gun, firearm, ammunition, explosives or weapon" in carry-on or checked baggage.

 

Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said firearms had been allowed in checked baggage before the September 11 attacks.

 

However, despite the policy change, the company has no uniform system of screening for firearms, Amtrak Chairman Thomas Carper noted in a letter to Sens. Patty Murray and Christopher Bond decrying Wednesday's congressional mandate. They are the top Democrat and Republican, respectively, on the Appropriations Committee's transportation subcommittee.

 

"Unlike the airline industry, Amtrak has no system in place for a uniform system of screening for weapons," Carper wrote. The railroad has no secure loading areas, and trains make multiple stops, he said. Employees also would need intensive training.

 

Further, he said, the National Railroad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak) has neither the money nor the time to meet the Senate's timetable to put such a system in place.

 

Carper warned that if Amtrak were to lose federal funds, it would result in the "cessation of all Amtrak service nationwide."

 

According to its Web site, Amtrak has in place "a range of behind-the-scenes and front-line security measures" that include random passenger and carry-on baggage screening; checked baggage screening; K-9 units; onboard security checks; and identification checks.

 

"As part of our security strategy, randomly selected passengers and their baggage, handbags, backpacks or other personal items may be screened or inspected," it says.

 

"Passengers failing to consent to security procedures will be denied access to trains and refused carriage, and a refund will be offered."

 

The gun 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.

 

Murray opposed the legislation.

 

"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 measure lays out the following 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.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09/16/amtrak.guns/index.html

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I'm wondering exactly what these people are smoking, how would they have time to do this, and what funding will go into training employees? Exactly how many people need to bring a gun with them on a train? IF you're moving and you're going by train, can't you fedex your guns?

 

- A

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I dont see the big deal either, if its tucked away in the suitcase, in the baggage compartment or wherever luggage goes on an amtrak train, its not like the passenger can go get it and pull a Ferguson on the train.

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But each bag would have to be checked out, delaying boarding times and complicating a streamlined system...

 

- A

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Guys, it's not just about guns or not, it's "find out an effective way to screen guns for baggage within 6 months or shut down totally".

 

- A

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Oh, remember that (MTA), MBTA, MARC, (NJT), :septa: and many other transit systems utilize amtk rails and rely on amtk dispatching & power and stations, so no money = no pax trains. LIRR would have to run the P train because NYP would be shut down. In fact, i think pretty much every main line pax operation would simply stop.

 

This provision is set up by anti-public transportation interests, namely the oil, airline, auto and NRA lobbies.

 

- A

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Oh, remember that (MTA), MBTA, MARC, (NJT), :septa: and many other transit systems utilize amtk rails and rely on amtk dispatching & power and stations, so no money = no pax trains. LIRR would have to run the P train because NYP would be shut down. In fact, i think pretty much every main line pax operation would simply stop.

 

This provision is set up by anti-public transportation interests, namely the oil, airline, auto and NRA lobbies.

 

- A

 

I'm interested to see how this goes, I wonder what Joe Biden's stance is being that he's "Mr. Amtrak." Whoever gave Amtrak that ultimatum obviously has no foresight of what the chain of events would be of Amtrak shutting down.

 

What about the varying firearms laws in all the states?? Being that Amtrak serves more than one state I think this might be a problem

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What about the varying firearms laws in all the states?? Being that Amtrak serves more than one state I think this might be a problem

And that is why the Federal Government can tell them what to do.

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Some states ban guns on public transportation, including but not limited to park & ride shuttles, busses, trollies/streetcars, trains, and the whole "do it or you shut down" premise is wholly short sighted and petty. You can't expect the busiest stations to have enough staff to handle some totally new protocol involving weapons. Also, there are some state laws which prohibit transport of firearms of any kind across state borders.

 

I know in michigan you can buy a gun when you open an account at a bank, but forcing amtrak to change its baggage system with 6 months notice is just asinine. Every amtk employee i've spoken to thinks someone in Washington drank some bad milk or something.

 

- A

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Amtrak is funded by Federal funds. They want to keep receiving it, well then they need to play ball. About time someone in DC actually decided to follow the constitution and our rights to bear arms.

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Just so everyone knows, this isn't going anywhere until the President signs it. In my opinion, along with alot of others at Amtrak, I believe that'll never happen.

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