Senate Approves Wicker Measure to End Train Travel Restrictions on Gun Owners

September 16, 2009

WASHINGTON – By a vote of 68 to 30, the Senate today approved an amendment offered by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., to end train travel restrictions on gun owners.  The amendment, agreed to during consideration of the transportation and housing appropriations bill, gives Amtrak until March 31, 2010, to enact regulations similar to those the U.S. airline industry uses to regulate secure firearm transport on airplanes or forgo federal subsidy funding.  Under the transportation and housing appropriations bill, Amtrak is set to receive $1.55 billion in funding.

“In our country today, airline passengers may transport firearms and ammunition in secure, checked baggage when declared during the check-in process,” Wicker said.  “Amtrak passengers are not permitted to do the same.  Americans should not have their Second Amendment rights restricted for any reason, particularly if they choose to travel on America’s federally subsidized rail line.  I appreciate the support of my colleagues in passing this pro-Second Amendment measure.”

Wicker’s amendment mirrors current Transportation Security Administration requirements to check firearms for air travel.  The amendment states that if an Amtrak station accepts luggage for a specific route, passengers would be able to lawfully transport firearms and ammunition in secure baggage based on 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 for the container

Wicker noted that prior to 2001, Amtrak accepted firearms in secure, checked baggage without incident. 

The amendment is similar to a stand-alone bill Wicker introduced in August.  The senator also successfully offered the measure to the budget resolution earlier this year.  The amendment passed by a vote of 63-35 but was later removed during final House-Senate negotiations.