Senator wants guns on Amtrak trains

June 13, 2010

A Republican U.S. senator, trying to force Amtrak to allow train passengers to carry guns on board–or face shutdown, has obtained the support of the Government Accountability Office (GAO). [Raw Story]

The GAO ruled last week that an amendment inserted into a transportation funding bill by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) was permanent law and Amtrak was required to obey. The so-called Wicker Amendment forces Amtrak to reverse a rule instituted after 9-11 banning passengers from bringing guns on board trains.

Now the cash-strapped Amtrak must come before the Senate this week with a plan to allow gun-toting passengers, or face a loss of $1.6 billion in federal funding.

The Amtrak requirement, slipped into a $68.8 billion transportation bill earlier this year, is an unfunded mandate. Critics argue that Amtrak must now come up with special screening for those wishing to carry guns, though the source of that funding is currently unknown.

Wicker’s Amtrak gun amendment passed by a wide margin, with 68 senators voting in favor and 30 against.

Despite threats to close it, Amtrak the rail service remains popular. In 2009, the railroad carried 27.2 million passengers, the second-best year in the company’s history.

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It should be noted that passengers can currently carry a gun in their checked luggage on an airplane if they declare it… this simply brings that right to train passengers.

It’s comforting that the grand old party is working its magic to maintain our world leadership in both passenger rail service, and medical care.