Bills introduced in the MO House and Senate would allow individuals with conceal/carry permits to carry firearms on public transit buses, vans, trains and other spaces owned or operated by a public transit provider. The Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA) understands the reasoning behind these bills is to improve safety on transit. However, allowing firearms on transit may serve as a detriment to ridership and has not been proven to enhance safety and security of any system. There is an unacceptable risk on transit vehicles that someone could be harmed if a gun is fired or discharged accidently. The MPTA opposes any legislation which would allow carrying concealed weapons on transit, and we ask that transit supporters weigh in today on HB282 with the House Emerging Issues Committee.
The largest Missouri transit providers provide tens of millions of rides each year and have publicly expressed opposition to conceal and carry on transit. The proposed bill is especially problematic in areas like St. Louis where the system spans both Missouri and Illinois and is governed by a Federal Compact which prohibits Bi-State Development employees and contractors from carrying weapons that can cause bodily harm. The KCATA has a partnership with their local police force to patrol its system. These partnerships with law enforcement are allowing local control to determine the best actions for a particular system.
In addition, these bills could also jeopardize the funding of our rural providers like OATS and SMTS that have private contracts to operate service in Missouri. Passage of a CCW bill on transit would have significant fiscal impact to the state. Because most Missouri rural transit providers receive federal funding through MoDOT for general public service, they would have to adhere to conceal/carry permits on transit if such a bill were to pass. Yet, a majority of their users are individuals with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and senior citizens who ride under funding grants that expressly prohibit firearms on buses. These include the various Missouri state departments’ own regulations for transportation service for these individuals. OATS, SMTS and others use many of these private contracts to match federal funds. If this legislation passes and it is required to allow firearms on these vehicles, this would jeopardize not only the public contracts but the federal funding. Loss of those contracts used as local match for federal funds would impact the amount of federal funding that could be drawn down for operating expenses for Missouri transit providers.
Finally, the ATU which represents thousands of transit operators in the state is adamantly opposed to these bills as they inherently place their members at risk. These operators are essential to ensuring our communities continue to have good access to jobs, education and healthcare.
Other organizations like Greater St. Louis Inc; City of Kansas City and Kansas City Chamber have all testified previously in opposition to these bills. Transit is having a significant positive economic impact on our state to the tune of $3.6 billion annually. Impairing the ability of transit providers to deliver service with a bill like this can impact the state’s bottom line as well. Arming transit riders is not the answer to enhancing the safety and security of these systems. Weigh in today if you have a chance.
House Emerging Issues Committee:
|Rep. David Tyson||Smith||David.Smith@house.mo.gov|