Rehberg Wants Amtrak Gun Rights Plan Permanent

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Montana Republican Denny Rehberg says he is trying to make permanent a plan allowing guns on Amtrak trains with new legislation, but recognizes the idea faces a long road.

A new bill from the congressman builds upon action brewing in the appropriations process that would give Amtrak riders rights comparable to those enjoyed by airline passengers, who are permitted to transport unloaded firearms in a securely locked container — as long as they are in checked baggage.

Rehberg said he expects the House will agree with Senate action in a spending bill that extends the right for one year. But he said separate legislation, like his, is needed to make it permanent.

“That is why it is important to pass legislation, so that you don’t have to put it on the appropriations bill every year forever,” Rehberg said in an interview.

The Republican said he recognizes it may be difficult to get his idea to a vote on the House floor because House Democratic leaders are unlikely to give the GOP-backed idea its own hearing. But Rehberg believes gun advocates will keep trying.

Before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Amtrak permitted firearms to be carried on its trains so long as they were separately secured in locked baggage or carrying cases. But it added restrictions on carrying weapons after 9/11 and imposed a total ban on all weapons after the bombings of passenger trains in Madrid five years ago.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the idea of allowing guns on the trains again as part of its appropriations bill, which lasts for a year.

Rehberg said the issue is particularly important to Montana because of the number of people who travel here from out of state to hunt. More could take the train if they were allowed to transport their guns that way, he said.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.