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Let me say this out front: I do NOT want to hear from antis who say that this story – of a mass stabbing on an AMTRAK train – would have been worse if the perp had had a gun. I don’t want to be shot OR stabbed. Nor do I want either fate to befall ANY innocent life. I want all Americans to be able to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutional right to keep and bear arms to defend themselves and other innocent life. Period. Actually, there’s more. If the perp had used a gun in his heinous attack, I would have wanted a gun, too. As the antis’ desire to disarm criminals is a pipe dream, there is no reason disarm or even make it difficult for Americans to tool-up. Even on trains! Speaking of which . . .

It is legal to carry on an AMTRAK train. But not in the sense of carrying a firearm on your person. Or in a nearby bag. Here are the rules. And remember: passengers failing to meet the requirements for checking firearms will be denied transportation.

  • Notification that the passenger will be checking firearms/ammunition must be made no later than 24 hours before train departure by calling Amtrak at 800-USA-RAIL. Online reservations for firearms/ammunition are not accepted.
  • The passengers must travel on the same train that is transporting the checked firearms and/or ammunition.
  • All firearms and/or ammunition must be checked at least 30 minutes prior to scheduled train departure. Some larger stations require that baggage be checked earlier. Please contact your departure station for more details.
  • All firearms (rifles, shotguns, handguns, starter pistols) must be unloaded and in an approved, locked hard-sided container not exceeding 62″ L x 17″ W x 7″ D (1575 mm x 432 mm x 178 mm). The passenger must have sole possession of the key or the combination for the lock to the container. The weight of the container may not exceed 50 lb/23 kg.
  • Smaller locked, hard-sided containers containing smaller unloaded firearms such as handguns and starter pistols must be securely stored within a suitcase or other item of checked baggage, but the existence of such a firearm must be declared.
  • All ammunition carried must be securely packed in the original manufacturer’s container; in fiber, wood, or metal boxes; or in other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. The maximum weight of all ammunition and containers may not exceed 11 lb/5 kg.
  • The passenger is responsible for knowing and following all federal, state, and local firearm laws at all jurisdictions to and through which he or she will be travelling.
  • All other Amtrak checked baggage policies apply, including limits on the number of pieces of checked baggage, the maximum weight of each piece (50 lb/23 kg).
  • Firearms/ammunition may not be carried in carry-on baggage; therefore, checked baggage must be available on all trains and at all stations in the passenger’s itinerary.
  • At the time of check-in, passengers will be required to complete and sign a two-part Declaration Form.
  • BB guns and Compressed Air Guns (to include paintball markers), are to be treated as firearms and must comply with the above firearms policy. Canisters, tanks, or other devices containing propellants must be emptied prior to checking and securely packaged within the contents of the passenger’s luggage.

I have an idea! How about anyone can carry on an AMTRAK train? Crazy, but why not?

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  1. Without federal or state law preventing any business (within reason), public building, etc from prohibiting concealed carry, good luck.

    The first step would be state preemption/ nationalization of CC licenses. The govt doesnt need to issue the licenses, but rather force each state to recognize the licenses of each state. The same way driver’s licenses work. Self defense is a more fundamental right than driving a car IMO (the constitution didn’t say anything about horses now did it).

    • Actually there is a fundamental right to travel, by the conveyance of the time. Its been in dozens of cases up to the supreme court level. We seem to have forgotten it over our fear some unlicensed person would hit our car.

        • Here is a good example of a law that is not effective. In WA state it is illegal to drive without insurance. So, that means everyone has insurance, right ? Sorry, No, they don’t. But they do get a fine if they are caught without insurance. Might even get their driver’s license taken away. Does that stop them. No, not really. They just drive without a license until they get caught. Lawmakers seem to think that a law actually corrects problems but that is often far from the situation in the real world. Then again, maybe it is more about politics that fixing problems.

        • Beretta, I have been in several states which essentially duplicate those rules. The only way you stop that is to put the sucker in jail, and the jails are full of people who committed victimless crimes. But they keep passing more and more laws, without ever enforcing anything, because they are not worth enforcing. If somebody hits your car, and does not have insurance, then your insurance company should pay you and sue him. No law requiring you to buy something is necessary, and they won’t work. Including Obamacare.

        • Uninsured / under-insured motorist coverage. Protect yourself against those assholes.

          Like full tort coverage (in PA), it is mind-numbing how many people don’t have / don’t understand these types of insurance.

    • So the federal government has no authority to infringe on the RKBA, nor do the states, but you’re ok with the feds infringing in a particular way and forcing the states to do the same?

      The real problem here isn’t lack of national reciprocity, per se. It’s violation of the right to keep and bear arms directly.

      And by the way, driver’s license reciprocity is not universal and not federally mandated. It’s voluntary among states, states which still impose particular rules for driving in their states beyond what the license implies.

      The fact us, there is absolutely nothing which prevents the states from recognizing each other’s carry licenses. Nothing, but their own decision, that is. It should be abhorrent to enlist federal legislation to pound states into submission. That this one time it might be to our benefit is not a redeeming element.

    • It’s not Chicago, it’s Amtrak policy.

      Heck, it’s easier to FLY with pistols than to take Amtrak! You don’t have to declare you’re flying with pistols ahead of time, just declare at the counter.

  2. Niles,Michigan…and the news media was looking for a MOTIVE. As if it matters. Clueless.

    • I’ll be there around Christmas. Drinking to excess. It’s more socially acceptable than stabbing people.

  3. I’ve been on Amtrak twice and a commuter rail once. The Amtrak trips were from New England to the CSA.

    All I’m going to say is, IMO, concealed is concealed and know state reciprocity laws. I’d rather be thrown off a train than stabbed or dead.

      • I rode Amtrak from Chicago to EL AY in 87. East EL AY was where the CA end of the line was. Carried a charter arms .38 snubie in an ankle holster. I was not going to be disarmed in either city. Damn what the law said.

  4. It’s legal to transport a gun on Amtrak, not carry. Carry is defined as having a gun on your person or in an off-body bag that is readily accessible.

      • I didn’t see “stabbing” as a “prohibited activity” in Amtrak policy – though a knife is listed as a “prohibited item”.

        Shucks, shouldn’t that have prevented this incident from happening? I mean, a policy prohibiting knives should prevent knives being on the train, thereby preventing stabbings. If only I could figure out why that didn’t work.

        Maybe they need bigger signs?

    • I have said it before and even gun people think I’m crazy. I would rather be assaulted or robbed at gun point than knife point. A gun has a very small window where it is effective as a gun. A less than 1/2 inch projectile must intersect with your body to cause serious harm. A knife is very dangerous as any contact during an attack or struggle almost guarantees injury and a decrease in defensive capacity. In cases where a weapon is used to rob or coerce the victim a gun can be used at some distance allowing the assailant a sense of safety and space for the victim to act. A knife requires very close interaction that put the assailant on edge while limiting the victims ability to act. Wether you decide to surrender your property and trust the assailant with your life or fight back a gun IMO is preferable to a knife and probably any other weapon.

    • “If I remember my statistics, you have a significantly better chance at survival if you’re shot with a handgun as opposed to being stabbed.”

      You’re thinking of “you have a significantly better chance of survival if you shoot the guy with an illegally carried gun before he illegally stabs you, and walk away, as opposed to letting him stab you.”

  5. Can’t carry a concealed or open weapon. Alameda county CA. Commuted by BART for years. Pulled my knife twice when things got hinky. If you get stabby with me, I get stabby right back. Both times I pulled my knife the bad guys decided to be bad elsewhere. Funny how an armed victim gets a pass.

      • Unfortunately when I’m going to spend time in Chiraq I fly there. Makes it a little difficult to pack.

  6. What possible justification could they have for disarming everyone on trains? It’s not like a firearm discharge could cause catastrophic failure or crash of a train.

    For that matter it is nearly impossible for a firearm discharge to cause a catastrophic failure or crash of an airliner as well.

    • They’re afraid of a mass shooting like on the LIRR many years back. BUT – if another “customer” was also carrying, albeit illegally, the mass shooting would abruptly and loudly, IMO. And I don’t think there would be a prosecution for the non-ventilated shooter carrying illegally.

      • Do they screen for handguns like on planes in accordance with that fear… or is this a law only intended to affect that group of criminals that follow laws?

        • Great question. I never rode Am Trak in the East. Rode in California a few years back and they did NOT search/screen anyone. You just got on and found a seat. Could have taken anything you can conceal on board “The Surfliner”. It was cold that day and I had a heavy coat that could have held two 1911’s and extra loaded magazines with no problem. Might be procedure has changed in the meantime, but haven’t heard it has. Think I’ll take a trip to Santa Barbara or San Diego for lunch soon to see what they do nowadays.

        • Do they screen for handguns like on planes in accordance with that fear…

          Don’t give them any ideas. TSA have already floated the idea of providing security screening for buses.

        • We need to make certain the bureaucrats cannot afford to undertake such a prohibitively expensive program as screening every passenger on a train or bus. Smaller government, 10% cuts across the board every year until our rights return.

      • All mass shootings* happen in Gun Free Zones. All of them.

        (The lone exception cited is the Gabby Giffords shooting – but that was an assassination attempt, not a mass shooting.)

        * A “mass shooting” is one where a perpetrator intends to kill indiscriminately as many people as possible. Even using the dubious criterion of “more than 4 (or 2, or whatever) people shot”, the Giffords assassination attempt is the only mass shooting to happen outside of a Gun Free Zone.

  7. I’ve traveled that train route from Mid-Michigan to Chicago several times to visit friends. I carry concealed every day. They have never checked me or my bag and they don’t have metal detectors anywhere I’ve boarded or at Union Station in Chicago so you could probably get away with it. Just sad that this also means someone with criminal intent just does whatever they want and if I follow the law am defensless.


    This was the subway, but it’s the incident where the guy was stabbed subduing a fugitive the police were looking for right next to two transit police. They watched until the guy had subdued the fugitive before stepping in. The city won- sorry can’t find the link for the final ruling- guy’s suit was thrown out because the judge agreed the police had no duty to protect him.

    But the same thing applies everywhere– I want to carry because the police have no duty to protect me, even if they’re standing right there watching.

  9. Where would one find the violent death rates by city in the United States ? New York mayor says their city is one of the safest in the U.S.. But where are the statistics to see if that is true or not ? Would like to see comparisons of violent crime (by any means, not just by firearms) in Chicago, New York City, Miami, Houston and so on. Anyone know how to find that information ? Thanks.

  10. like to know how many cops are killed or hurt each year , any one know ? , we were seeing a cop or more per week killed in 1999 when I lived in Pa., as where my wife worked in Md. they where taking one or more to the grave yard near her work , as I would get stopped by it on the roadway…….

  11. This is good to know. I probably would have never rode Amtrak, a government supported monopoly, anyway, but now I have an even bigger reason never to set foot on their trains.

  12. It’s the same old story, would you rather be caught with a gun or without one… F the law, my safety comes first…anyway a law-abiding citizen with a well-concealed firearm has a zero% chance of being caught. But the antis may have a point, a gun would bave made the situation much worse for one particular traveler.

  13. Umm… I’m no anti, except maybe anti-NRA since the 1977 leadership coupe. We’re a gun family – my wife and I are CHL, both my young kids shoot both long and hand guns.

    But the last place I want to be in a free for all gun battle is a 10’x67′ metal tube clogged aisle and doorways with people. Even the best trained LEO struggle to control their shots well enough in open air – look at the stats on misses/innocent hits,

    Ask the 9/11 terrorists on flight 93… Hot coffee, laptops, and a dog pile are more than enough to take down one crazy with a knife. We can’t ask them since the good guys realized box knives were hardly the scariest thing.

    • Objection noted. But if I was the unarmed one grappling with the crazy knife man and a no balls 2A wanna-be with a gun said *what should I do*, well, I can’t say for sure what words I would use but it’s a safe bet that “kill” “stupid” and “m—–f—–” would be among them.

    • The problem (advantage?) that has been pointed out before is that AMTRAK doesn’t screen or metal detect passengers before they board, so it doesn’t matter what the rules are. If someone wants to break them and cause mayhem, whether it be a gun, knife, or bomb, they will do so anyways.

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