House GOPer Goes ‘All Aboard for Gun Rights on Amtrak’
Rep. Peter King (NY), the senior Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, has strongly criticized a Senate-approved provision that would force Amtrak to allow guns on board — but some of King’s colleagues fired back yesterday by introducing a counterpart to the Senate’s proposal.
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) led several lawmakers in proposing legislation that would change Amtrak’s policy on transporting firearms in checked baggage. In a statement issued by his office, Rehberg described the bill as going "all aboard for gun rights on Amtrak":
Amtrak is a great way for Montanans to
get around the country, but folks shouldn’t have to forfeit their
Second Amendment rights when they climb aboard. Current restrictions prevent Montanans who wish to
legally transport firearms from enjoying the convenience of Amtrak
travel. It’s time to protect gun rights, whether you travel by plane,
train or automobile.
There is a notable difference between Rehberg’s plan and the language the Senate attached to its version of the 2010 U.S. DOT budget, sparking the ire of some policy-makers from the New York area. The Senate provision would give Amtrak a hard deadline of next spring to begin accepting unloaded firearms or risk the loss of federal funding, but Rehberg’s bill includes no such timetable.
The Montanan told the local Missoulian newspaper yesterday that the Senate had "changed its language" to be more in line with his legislation, and an Amtrak spokesman said the rail network would not be opposed to Rehberg’s bill. Specifying that guns remain in checked baggage would restrict the scope of the rules change, since travelers can only check bags on 30 percent of Amtrak trips.