Dec 09 2009 -
Wicker Provision to allow Amtrak passengers to transport firearms in checked luggage included in year-end spending bill
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today announced that his effort to allow Amtrak passengers to transport firearms in secure, checked luggage has succeeded, following inclusion of the provision in year-end spending legislation finalized by congressional negotiators last night.
The Amtrak provision, based on an amendment successfully offered to the transportation spending bill by Sen. Wicker in September, directs Amtrak to begin allowing passengers to transport firearms in checked baggage within one year of the bill’s enactment. This will give Amtrak passengers the same right as airline passengers to transport firearms in secure, checked baggage.
“This is an important victory for sportsmen and gun owners across the country, and it affirms congressional support of the Second Amendment,” Wicker said. “Airline passengers in our country are allowed to transport firearms in secure, checked baggage when declared during the check-in process. Law-abiding gun owners who choose to travel on America’s taxpayer-subsidized rail line should be given the same right.”
Wicker noted that the provision may also increase revenue for Amtrak by increasing ridership among sportsmen across the country.
The Wicker-authored provision is similar to current Transportation Security Administration requirements to check firearms for air travel. The provision 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:
• The passenger must declare to Amtrak within 24 hours of departure that the firearm will be placed in his or her bag and will be 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.
When Wicker successfully offered the Amtrak amendment to the transportation spending bill earlier this year, it passed with strong bipartisan support. Twenty-seven Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., joined all 40 Republicans and one independent senator in voting for the amendment.
Wicker’s Amtrak provision is included in a spending measure that combines six of the unfinished appropriations bills needed to fund the government. The House of Representatives could take up the bill as early as this week. Senate consideration would soon follow.