Earlier today, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) offered an amendment to the 2010 Transportation-Housing & Urban Development Appropriations bill.
Sen. Wicker's amendment will allow law-abiding gun owners to safely and legally transport firearms when they travel on Amtrak. A nearly identical amendment, also offered by Sen. Wicker, passed the Senate in April by a vote of 63-35.
Current Amtrak regulations prohibit firearms in both checked and carry-on baggage. Sportsmen who wish to use an Amtrak train for a hunting trip, therefore, cannot include a shotgun even in their checked luggage.
Likewise, travelers who have a permit to carry a concealed firearm cannot include a self-defense firearm in their checked luggage, even if they are allowed to carry in both the states of origin and destination.
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But if such travelers were to take the trip by air, they could check a gun onto the aircraft by simply declaring the firearm and transporting it in a prescribed manner.
Of course, very few people use Amtrak -- and many question why that entity receives any tax payer money.
Regardless, a transportation entity that receives billions of federal taxpayer dollars should not be allowed to prevent law-abiding citizens from hunting or defending themselves when they travel on vacation or personal business.
Sen. Wicker's amendment prohibits any federal taxpayer funding of Amtrak if it does not allow gun owners to transport firearms on trains in a manner similar to that of airlines.
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Under this amendment, travelers would be able to transport a firearm from Amtrak stations that accept checked baggage as long as the firearm is declared and carried in a hard-sided, locked container.
Americans should not be denied their Second Amendment rights when they travel by Amtrak.
It's bad enough that law-abiding citizens are disarmed onboard a train, where there is usually no law enforcement present and where they may be subject to criminal attack. But it is just plain absurd not to let American citizens simply transport a firearm in checked baggage.