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NARP Goes Anti-Gun

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henryj

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Got this email from NARP today. Personally, I think they should stick to their choo choo trains.

Action Alert: Call your Senators and tell the to oppose the Wicker Amendment

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Sample Message

I urge Senator X to vote against the Wicker amendment to the Fiscal 2010 budget resolution. I understand that the issue of firearms transportation is controversial, but I oppose any effort to micromanage Amtrak through Congressional legislation or mandates.

To NARP Members, April 2, 2009--

First of all, I would like to say up front that I understand that NARP has a diverse membership that has a wide range of opinions on issues not related to trains, such as firearms. The issue of firearms transportation is controversial and many of our members likely oppose Amtrak's policy of not transporting firearms in checked baggage. However, we as an Association always oppose Congressional micromanagement of Amtrak, and that's what this is. Thank you in advance for taking action on this issue.

Today, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) will offer an amendment to the Fiscal 2010 Budget Resolution that would force Amtrak to restore the transportation of firearms in checked baggage. Amtrak used to transport firearms in checked baggage, but ended this practice as ended after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Please contact your Senators immediately and urge them to oppose the Wicker amendment. This is likely to be voted on today, starting sometime around noon Eastern Daylight Time. As such, phone calls are needed, or e-mails only if you have established a relationship with a Senate staff member.

You can call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121, or go to the Senate's website and choose your state from the drop-down menu at the top right to get the direct number to your Senators' offices. A sample message is provided in the left column of this e-mail.

Thank you for taking action on this issue.

David Johnson

Vice President
 

Ispolkom

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Got this email from NARP today. Personally, I think they should stick to their choo choo trains.
Absolutely.
Hmm, I'm trying to remember if I've ever checked a firearm on Amtrak. I don't think so... (really, I'm not certain. I grew up in North Dakota, and have traveled with all sorts of baggage.)

While I agree with their notion that Congress shouldn't micromanage Amtrak, did they also denounce the recent demand that Amtrak study the return of the Pioneer? If so, I'll agree with their position. If not, I agree that they really ought to stick to choo choo trains.
 

Amtrak839

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 20, 2008
Messages
297
Got this email from NARP today. Personally, I think they should stick to their choo choo trains.
Absolutely.
Hmm, I'm trying to remember if I've ever checked a firearm on Amtrak. I don't think so... (really, I'm not certain. I grew up in North Dakota, and have traveled with all sorts of baggage.)

While I agree with their notion that Congress shouldn't micromanage Amtrak, did they also denounce the recent demand that Amtrak study the return of the Pioneer? If so, I'll agree with their position. If not, I agree that they really ought to stick to choo choo trains.
I don't believe they did. You're comparing two very different things, though. You can't reasonably expect them to denounce a study that could lead to the expansion and improvement of service. Allowing passengers to check firearms will not expand or improve service.
 

PRR 60

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...You're comparing two very different things, though. You can't reasonably expect them to denounce a study that could lead to the expansion and improvement of service. Allowing passengers to check firearms will not expand or improve service.
Both, however, are micromanaging. The difference is that micromanaging for something that NARP likes is a valid exercise of legislative prerogative, and micromanaging for something that NARP does not like is congressional interference. I don't think that NARP can have it both ways. Well, actually they can. They can take whatever positions they like regardless of whether they make any sense.

As for firearms in checked baggage, I cannot understand why Amtrak would ban the practice while airlines permit it. A firearm, properly disassembled and packed in a case, is no danger to anyone. I'm not a hunter or sport shooter, but many are. I guess Amtrak does not want their business, and NARP does not want them as members.
 
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Ryan

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OTN
Allowing passengers to check firearms will not expand or improve service.
Actually, it would - fact is, folks travel with firearms all the time. At present, anyone doing so is excluded from traveling by train and is forced to drive or fly.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to prohibit firearms from the baggage car, provided that they are properly secured.

Yes, I agree that congress micromanaging Amtrak is bad in the general case, but Amtrak's management has demonstrated that occasionally they need prodding to do the right thing.
 

Dakguy201

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 6, 2007
Messages
67
I agree that Congress should not be micromanaging Amtrak like this. However, Amtrak's management is capable of making stupid decisions, to me this is one of them. To whom should Amtrak be accountable? As General Motors just found out, when you take federal money, the feds can and probably will call the tune.
 

Everydaymatters

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Just North of Normal, Illinois
Allowing passengers to check firearms will not expand or improve service.
Actually, it would - fact is, folks travel with firearms all the time. At present, anyone doing so is excluded from traveling by train and is forced to drive or fly.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to prohibit firearms from the baggage car, provided that they are properly secured.

Yes, I agree that congress micromanaging Amtrak is bad in the general case, but Amtrak's management has demonstrated that occasionally they need prodding to do the right thing.
If a firearm is in the baggage car, does it first go through any screening to ascertain that it is disassembled? How do you secure a hand gun? Do you mean with a trigger lock?
 

MattW

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East of Atlanta, GA
Short of a Conductor or SA going postal on the whole train, who can access the gun? Even so, in this post-9/11 world, people are even less scared of terrorists than before (screw what the govt says!) and will more than likely fight back. I think Conductor going postal would be a good reason for the e-brake, might at least throw him off balance! (onboard crew would more than likely reach it first)

The only reason I'd oppose allowing guns in checked-baggage is if that suddenly meant airport-style screening and "tsa approved locks."
 

Ryan

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Allowing passengers to check firearms will not expand or improve service.
Actually, it would - fact is, folks travel with firearms all the time. At present, anyone doing so is excluded from traveling by train and is forced to drive or fly.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to prohibit firearms from the baggage car, provided that they are properly secured.

Yes, I agree that congress micromanaging Amtrak is bad in the general case, but Amtrak's management has demonstrated that occasionally they need prodding to do the right thing.
If a firearm is in the baggage car, does it first go through any screening to ascertain that it is disassembled? How do you secure a hand gun? Do you mean with a trigger lock?
Here are the TSA standards for checking firearms in baggage. I would imagine that Amtrak's pre-2001 policy were fairly similar.

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/ass...orial_1666.shtm
 

henryj

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Allowing passengers to check firearms will not expand or improve service.
Actually, it would - fact is, folks travel with firearms all the time. At present, anyone doing so is excluded from traveling by train and is forced to drive or fly.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to prohibit firearms from the baggage car, provided that they are properly secured.

Yes, I agree that congress micromanaging Amtrak is bad in the general case, but Amtrak's management has demonstrated that occasionally they need prodding to do the right thing.
It's an interesting discussion. I think the decision to ban firearms was 'micromanagement' in the first place, wasn't it? So this amounts to 'reverse micromanagement'. Unless Amtrak conducts searches of baggage or scans it, it is a moot point anyway. I would bet that many passengers are carrying concealed weapons, just no one knows about it. I know on the freight rr out west there are just a few crews that do a little hunting from the cab during hunting season. In any case, carrying a properly packed firearm in checked baggage is not an issue and it would allow law enforcement, hunters, etc. to use rail service.
 

Green Maned Lion

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NJ
To be frank, I fail to see the security improvement of not transporting firearms in CHECKED baggage. You can't access the baggage car while the train is in motion.

Also, you can carry firearms on Amtrak- provided you are a person authorized to transport firearms across state lines and on public transportation and so on- in otherwords, you have a concealed-carry permit and all the other legal claptrap that goes with that stuff. Which probably means you are some kind of diplomat, law enforcement officer, or soldier.

If I want to transport a valuble firearm- lets say I am a genuine collector of guns, and I have some nice brown bess musket or something of that nature. I don't see why Amtrak (or an aircraft, for that matter) is a less valid place to transport such a weapn and musuem piece. Now, if you are transporting your Kalashnikov, we are on a different page. Its not really collectable.

I am generally a proponent of safe gun control laws. Also, a sort of gun collector. I collect, to an extreme extent, Soviet-made products. I have a few Soviet-made guns (only one of which is possibly capable of firing- I've never fired any of them), among that collection. Also soviet made car models, watches, electronic calculators, digital watches, clocks, military memorobilia, remote-control cars, video games, televisions, computers, stereo equipment, radios, and so on ad infinitum (and, according to my girlfriend, ad nauseum). I've even spent a lot of money and time trying to import a Lada, and have occasionally made weak efforts trying to import a used ZIL 41047- although the time that I have had money to purchase one passed a while back.

I will agree this is micromanagement. I will agree NARP has no business with this. I will agree that there is little actual value to the policy against it- the logic behind it is inherently flawed. And I suggest we stick to our choo-choos to on this. And pray to god we never have a valid reason to discuss other contriversal issues with relation to Amtrak (such as gay marriage or abortion). Wouldn't be pretty.
 
J

JC653

Guest
"... we as an Association always oppose Congressional micromanagement of Amtrak, and that's what this is."
This isn't about guns. It's about who gets to make the call.

I support NARP's call in sending out this dispatch.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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Just to be clear, is there anything Congress has said that would prevent Amtrak from carrying firearms in checked luggage if Amtrak's management decided they wanted to?

I think the level of security needed for a baggage car that potentially contains a disassembled weapon may be somewhat higher than a baggage car unlikely to contain anything other than clothes on a train where there's plenty of clothing in carry-on luggage as well.
 
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sechs

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ATL
As for firearms in checked baggage, I cannot understand why Amtrak would ban the practice while airlines permit it.
Perhaps you should question why the airlines permit it, then?

Is it because it's impossible to check a gun without security knowing because there is security? Is it because it's impossible to for anyone to get to the gun while in flight?

The fact of the matter is that you probably could check an appropriately disguised gun onto a train, and no one would be the wiser. And, en route, the baggage car may be opened twenty or more times, with someone routing around; that's not to mention someone who might try to get in there for nefarious purposes.
 

ruudkeulers

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Although I'm opposed to anyone owning/carrying a fire weapon (typically Dutch, I'm afraid) and certainly in public transport, I guess I'd be much more reassured if the thing was stowed away in checked baggage than that there was someone walking around with it on the same train I was on.

And now we're on the subject: what does NARP stand for? Some Congressional comittee?
 

jackal

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SGF
And now we're on the subject: what does NARP stand for? Some Congressional comittee?
National Association of Railroad Passengers, a not-for-profit membership advocacy organization supporting passenger rail (or at least as passenger rail exists in the form of Amtrak).

See their website:

http://www.narprail.org/
 
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WICT106

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Wisconsin
What I would be concerned with is the extension of this prohibition to other forms of lawful, legal self-defense mechanisms. I could see where there would be concern with potentially lethal weapons, but what about pepper spray or tazers ?

If anything, this prohibition does not reflect the attitudes prevalent throughout much of the US. If it is legal to do so via air travel, why not via rail?
 
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Upstate

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Feb 21, 2009
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The fact of the matter is that you probably could check an appropriately disguised gun onto a train, and no one would be the wiser. And, en route, the baggage car may be opened twenty or more times, with someone routing around; that's not to mention someone who might try to get in there for nefarious purposes.
If someone was going to try anything on a train, they could just walk on board with a handgun under a jacket and an AK with a folding stock and a drum in a piece of carry on luggage. If they can't get enough firepower on the train with just carry on luggage then they don't need to be in the business of being a baddie.

But really, are the baddies going to follow the rules for checked baggage in the first place.
 

Ispolkom

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The fact of the matter is that you probably could check an appropriately disguised gun onto a train, and no one would be the wiser. And, en route, the baggage car may be opened twenty or more times, with someone routing around; that's not to mention someone who might try to get in there for nefarious purposes.
If someone was going to try anything on a train, they could just walk on board with a handgun under a jacket and an AK with a folding stock and a drum in a piece of carry on luggage. If they can't get enough firepower on the train with just carry on luggage then they don't need to be in the business of being a baddie.

But really, are the baddies going to follow the rules for checked baggage in the first place.
My only objection to forbidding firearms in checked luggage is that it's a rare Amtrak foray into security theater. Not allowing firearms in checked luggage doesn't improve security, it merely allows Amtrak to claim they are doing something.

Amtrak cannot secure the tracks it travels over -- there are too many grade crossings and bridges and trestles. It can't secure its trains, given the way passengers and luggage go on and off trains. The general result, outside of the Northeast Corridor, at least, is that it doesn't pretend to try. I like that honesty.

Oh, and Green-Maned Lion, I hope you don't leave your soviet televisions plugged in. Their propensity to explode is proverbial.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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My only objection to forbidding firearms in checked luggage is that it's a rare Amtrak foray into security theater. Not allowing firearms in checked luggage doesn't improve security, it merely allows Amtrak to claim they are doing something.
Amtrak cannot secure the tracks it travels over -- there are too many grade crossings and bridges and trestles. It can't secure its trains, given the way passengers and luggage go on and off trains. The general result, outside of the Northeast Corridor, at least, is that it doesn't pretend to try. I like that honesty.
If you're going to make that argument, then why aren't you arguing that Amtrak should also allow passengers to carry firearms on their person and in carry-on luggage? The Wicker Ammendment doesn't appear to be proposing to allow firearms in those places.

I'm not sure the bad guys who aren't following the rules are really the thing we should be worrying most about. My vague recollection is that the general statistics show that there are more gun deaths from family members misusing guns that were supposed to protect them from the bad guys than there are from burglers shooting their victims. Reducing the number of guns that happen to be around Amtrak passengers will probably improve overall safety, and having rules that say guns are simply not allowed are highly likely to have the effect of reducing the number of guns present even if those rules aren't always followed.
 

Ispolkom

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My only objection to forbidding firearms in checked luggage is that it's a rare Amtrak foray into security theater. Not allowing firearms in checked luggage doesn't improve security, it merely allows Amtrak to claim they are doing something.
Amtrak cannot secure the tracks it travels over -- there are too many grade crossings and bridges and trestles. It can't secure its trains, given the way passengers and luggage go on and off trains. The general result, outside of the Northeast Corridor, at least, is that it doesn't pretend to try. I like that honesty.
If you're going to make that argument, then why aren't you arguing that Amtrak should also allow passengers to carry firearms on their person and in carry-on luggage? The Wicker Ammendment doesn't appear to be proposing to allow firearms in those places.

I'm not sure the bad guys who aren't following the rules are really the thing we should be worrying most about. My vague recollection is that the general statistics show that there are more gun deaths from family members misusing guns that were supposed to protect them from the bad guys than there are from burglers shooting their victims. Reducing the number of guns that happen to be around Amtrak passengers will probably improve overall safety, and having rules that say guns are simply not allowed are highly likely to have the effect of reducing the number of guns present even if those rules aren't always followed.
Oh, you're being too kind using the word "argument." It's really more an aesthetic judgment. Banning properly prepared weapons in checked luggage (say a rifle if I wanted to take the Empire Builder to Montana to hunt elk) when you allow me to send luggage on a train that I'm not riding on (so I can ride the California Zephyr while my suitcase full of explosives is on the Empire Builder) shows to me an unlovely lack of proportion.

I also find cant unattractive. It offends me (again aesthetically) when NARP argues against this because they don't want Congress to micromanage Amtrak, but in other cases argues for just that micromanagement. There are good arguments for and against the way Amtrak treats firearms, but the micromanagement issue is dishonest.

In any case, I have never seen any evidence that NARP has any effect on Amtrak. If their lobbying is anything like their customer service to members like me...
 
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