The upcoming debate in the House-Senate conference committee on the transportation funding bill is expected to pit advocates of gun rights against those who are concerned about the risk of greater violence on the nation’s transportation network.
The bill includes an amendment introduced by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss), that would withhold $1.5 billion in Amtrak funding unless the company allows passengers to travel with firearms in their checked luggage.
Among the supporters of the measure is the National Rifle Association (NRA) which sees it as a vindication of Second Amendment rights. However, opponents have been alarmed by Amtrak’s admission that the carrier is unable to check baggage at 70 percent of stations and does not have the resources to secure checked luggage at the remaining 30 percent, according to Newsweek.
Moreover, in a recent letter several lawmakers from both parties wrote that "the deadly terrorist bombings of commuter trains in Madrid in 2004 and the ‘commando-style’ terrorist attack on a major rail station last November in Mumbai have emphasized the importance of passenger rail security in large urban areas," quoted by the news provider.
The House version of the transportation bill does not include the NRA-backed amendment, and the work is now underway to reconcile the two bills.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the number of new guns in the U.S. increases by about 4.5 million annually.