WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today announced that his provision to allow Amtrak passengers to transport firearms in secure, checked luggage has cleared its final legislative hurdle after being approved as part of a year-end spending package now headed to the White House to be signed into law.
“The approval of this provision will give train passengers the same right to securely transport firearms in checked baggage as air travelers. This sends a clear message that Congress will continue to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” said Wicker.
The bill’s Amtrak provision was based on an amendment Wicker successfully offered to the transportation spending measure earlier this year. It 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.
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’s Amtrak amendment was approved 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.
The FY2010 omnibus spending package will set funding levels for six of the appropriations bills that were not completed prior to the September 30 end of the fiscal year. The package includes the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bill, the Commerce, Justice, and Science bill, the Financial Services bill, Labor, Health & Human Services bill, the Military Construction -Veterans Affairs bill, and the State-Foreign Operations bill.
The House approved the measure on Thursday by a vote of 221 – 202. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law before December 18 when a temporary government funding measure expires.