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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Amtrak Lifts Firearm Ban

Late in 2009, congress attached a rider to an appropriations bill requiring Amtrak to allow passengers to be able to travel with their firearms, much as they currently can by air carrier.  On December 15th, the new law takes affect and the Richmond CBS affiliate (WTVR CBS6) did a story on the new law as part of it's 11:00 PM news last night.

VSSA had the opportunity to participate in the story.  Reporter Catie Beck was knowlegable about Virginia's current gun laws and we had a good interview and general conversation about Virgina's firearms laws before and after the filming.  It was clear however that the passenger bound for Chicago that was interviewed as part of the story had no clue about the law - that it was taking affect, nor what it required of gun owners to comply with the new law.


  The requirements under the new law are:

  • All firearms transported must be unloaded and locked in an approved hard sided case;
  • Firearms may only be transported on trains that have checked baggage compartments and baggage must be checked;
  • Passengers transporting firearms must make their reservations by phone;
  • Passengers transporting firearms must declare to Amtrak 24 hours prior to travel that they will be transporting firearms;
The passenger interviewed tossed out the usual red herrings such as someone could place a gun in their carry-on and not declare it or someone could put an explosive in the locked case and no-one would know.  The fact is, that could occur now and this new rule change does nothing to change that fact.  Amtrak currently has signs posted informing customers that all bags are subject to inspection.

The new Amtrak rules bring the rail carrier more in line with the airlines when it comes to transporting firearms.  Amtrak spent $2 million to make their baggage compartments more secure and the trains are likely more secure for firearms transportation than they were prior to September 11, 2001, when Amtrak stopped passengers from transporting firearms in response to the terrorist attacks. 

As with all of the claims of the gun ban lobby, the probability that this new change in the law will result in violence is slim.  But that has never stopped the gun ban crowd from making mountains out of mole hills.

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