Conservative lawmakers love to bemoan the federal government’s stake in Amtrak as the quintessential icon for big-government waste. However, they have no qualms about using this authority over the company to make it adjust its policies to comply with their impractical political whims. Case in point: a recent amendment to the budget bill for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development requiring Amtrak revoke its post-9/11, post-Madrid bombing ban on guns in checked luggage. The reasoning? Well, if you can have a gun in your checked airline baggage, why not on Amtrak as well? The New York Times has the obvious answer:
Amtrak has none of the hermetic procedures where airport passengers are screened shoeless at detectors while their checked baggage is separately secured. Trains stop at stations and passengers come and go. Amtrak presently has a system of checking passengers and screening baggage at random, much the way New York police monitor mass transit.
And lessened security isn’t the only reason reason train riders should be concerned:
The budget cudgel was approved despite pleas from Amtrak that it lacks the manpower, equipment and extra financing to effectively meet the deadline and that it faces a shutdown if federal funds are lost. Among other changes, baggage cars would have to be securely retrofitted and manpower increased. The warning cut no ice with the majority as the chief sponsor, Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican of Mississippi, intoned a lock-step mantra: “Americans should not have their Second Amendment rights restricted for any reason.”
Gotta love those unfunded mandates. TFA will keep an eye on this issue. Hopefully this is the kind of nonsense that gets shaken out during conference committee.