A provision put into a transportation funding bill last year has now been interpreted as a permanent right for passengers to carry guns aboard Amtrak, the federally funded passenger train service.
The Government Accountability Office, the investigatory arm of Congress, earlier this month informed Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., that language he inserted into the 2010 transportation appropriation bill will be ongoing and not expire on Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year, as some had thought. The language allows Amtrak passengers to have guns in their checked baggage, something not allowed since 9/11.
Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said the railroad has just submitted to Congress its plan for implementing the language including:
- Tightening security both for baggage areas on trains and storage areas at stations where bags are kept before departures and while waiting for connecting trains.
- Changing its reservation system so that passengers can notify Amtrak when they intend to travel with a gun.
- Training programs for Amtrak staff on the new law.
- New signage for area where guns are stored.
Education programs for the public and law enforcement agencies. By December, Kulm said, the first passengers with guns in their luggage will be allowed to travel on trains. Congress did not approve any extra funding to help the railroad implement the new law and Kulm did not have an estimate of the cost readily available.