HB 282, the conceal carry bill on public transit, is set to be heard by the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee the week of May 1. The bill allows for CCW on transit and also lowers the age for conceal carry permit holders from 19 to 18. It also allows for conceal carry of firearms in churches and places of worship. We are asking transit supporters to reach out to members of the Senate committee today to discuss the impact of this bill on your service e. Passage of this bill could have a direct impact on the state’s bottom line and the amount of federal funding available to MO Transit.
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 you consider opposing this bill.
“These bills 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,” said Kimberly Cella, MPTA Executive Director.
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. Crimes on the St. Louis transit system are down according to the three police units responsible for patrolling the MetroLink alignment. 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.
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.
Please consider reaching out today.
The committee roster is below:
|Travis Fitzwater, Chair