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Thread: Senate passes measure to allow gun transport on Amtrak

  1. #1
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    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09/...uns/index.html



    WASHINGTON (CNN) [/b]-- 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.





    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.

  2. #2

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    The argument about not having a screening process or secure areas doesn't even make sense.


    "...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."


    Sooo, they have a current rule that says you can't have a weapon in checked luggage, but they have no process in place to make sure folks follow the rule? They just operate on the "honor system"?

    "...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."

    Who says they would need one? Yes, airport security needs are a little different than train
    security needs. You hijack a plane you can go almost anywhere. You hijack a train you can only go where the tracks lead.

    If a terrorist struggles with a pilot, the plane loses control and crashes into the ground, possibly in a populated area or into a skyscraper, killing thousands. You struggle with a Engineer (is that what they call train drivers?) and the train stays on the tracks, or possibly derails and may kill no one.


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

    Then I suggest they get to it!


    "...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."


    And all that would continue to work. All they really need to do is create a form for those to fill out similar to the airlines and have a secured baggage container on the train for baggage carrying firearms. A little training and a little paper work. No need to completely revamp security or elevate it to the same level of theater the airlines use.





  3. #3
    State Researcher Bill Starks's Avatar
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    I'm sure there are trained TSA folks willing to work at their local train station....

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    M1Gunr wrote:
    I'm sure there are trained TSA folks willing to work at their local train station....
    I hear Obama Youth Corps is going to be deployed at the Stations as well. Just helping out, handing out Campaign literature and breaking into Spontaneous songs to our Glorious Leader.



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    The station in Lacey is staffed solely by volunteers, be interesting to see how they would implement a screening process there. I got an easier idea. Just treat 'em like regular luggage, and declare them for insurance purposes only. Oh, and since state and federal money go to the train, I want CC and OC onboard as well.

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    This could backfire - AMTRAK might put in passenger screening and prevent concealed carry which currently violates no federal law even if it is against AMTRAK "policy."

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    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Mike wrote:
    This could backfire - AMTRAK might put in passenger screening and prevent concealed carry which currently violates no federal law even if it is against AMTRAK "policy."
    I think you can count on just such a reaction.

    The "will show them" gauntlet has just been thrown.

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