Come December 15, Amtrak passengers will be allowed to bring their favorite guns and ammunition aboard most Amtrak trains following provisions in last year’s transportation funding bill. Though there was some horse-trading over the interpretation of the pertinent provision, thought by some to expire later this year, the US Government Accountability Office asserted the legislation to be permanent law.
Accordingly, after the middle of December you will be able to transport guns and ammo onboard Amtrak trains and along most routes as long as you adhere to the following policies (policies that if you think look suspiciously like those you’d have to follow to transport a gun on a plane, you’d be right):
• Passengers must declare to Amtrak within 24-hours of departure that the firearm will be placed in their checked baggage.
• The gun must not be loaded and must also be carried in a hard-sided container.
• The hard-sided container must be locked with only the passenger having the combination or key for the container and checked prior to boarding.
Also look for a number of passenger cars (especially in the Western United States) to be retrofitted with state of the art gun lockers.
The gun/train provision will also cover California though, always the free spirit when it comes to gun control, not all of it. Overall most of Amtrak’s California lines are covered, including the San Joaquin service connecting Sacramento to Oakland and the Central Valley. The seemingly incongruous gun ban remains “arresttable” on Capitol Corridor trains connecting Auburn, Sacramento and Davis with the Bay Area—perhaps a foreshadowing some legal showdowns across the country where federal and local laws conflict. Additionally, the Sacramento Bee reported that California gun rights were instrumental in getting the provision included in the most recent transportation bill.
The lift of a decade long train ban was made possible by activists within the gun advocacy community and politicians friendly to gun rights. In a statement issued earlier this month, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, truly the man responsible for train transport provision in last years transportation, said, “I am glad that Amtrak met its statutorily required deadline and is on track to implement the checked firearms program by December. Soon, train passengers will have the same right as air travelers to securely transport firearms in checked baggage.”
The gun provision will come at a time when Amtrak is stepping up its efforts to screen passengers. Check out this video for more information on increased security at train stations.