- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gun-toting Amtrak passengers are one giant step closer to being allowed to travel with firearms in their checked luggage, as lawmakers included a measure to lift a railroad gun ban in a catch-all spending bill for fiscal 2010.

The omnibus spending bill, which combines six annual appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, is considered must-pass legislation, and that makes the new Amtrak gun rule as close to a sure bet as there is on Capitol Hill.

Travelers with firearms have long faced disparate treatment on trains and airplanes. Airline passengers can transport firearms in checked baggage, but Amtrak currently prohibits guns anywhere on its trains.

This is an important victory for sportsmen and gun owners across the country, and it affirms congressional support of the Second Amendment, said Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi Republican, whose earlier efforts to lift the Amtrak gun ban paved the way for the measure’s inclusion in the year-end spending bill.

Airline passengers in our country are allowed to transport firearms in secure, checked baggage when declared during the check-in process,” Mr. Wicker said. “Law-abiding gun owners who choose to travel on Americas taxpayer-subsidized rail line should be given the same right.

Under the new law, firearms on trains would be treated similarly to those stored on airplanes.

Passengers would have to declare to Amtrak within 24 hours of departure that the unloaded firearm will be placed in luggage to be stored in the baggage car. The firearm must be carried in a locked, hard-sided container for which only the passenger has the combination or the key.

The House is expected to take up the spending bill as soon as this week, with Senate action soon to follow.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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