Bills introduced this session 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. Next week, there will a hearing in the House General Laws Committee on Tuesday, January 9 at 2 p.m. on HB 1708 which includes allowing CCW on transit. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Adam Schnelting. These bills not only potentially impact riders, operators, ridership numbers, but Missouri’s economic future. According to the Economic Impact Study of Public Transit in Missouri, transit is delivering millions to Missouri’s bottom line. These bills impact not only the ride, but the potential amount of federal dollars to Missouri.
These bills could 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 in these vehicles, this would jeopardize not only the public contracts but the federal funding. Loss of those contracts used as local matches for federal funds would impact the amount of federal funding that could be drawn down for operating expenses for Missouri transit providers.
“The Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA) understands the reasoning behind these bills is to improve safety on transit. However, allowing firearms on public 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 accidentally. The MPTA opposes any legislation which would allow carrying concealed weapons on transit,” said Kim Cella, executive director of MPTA.
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 allow local control to determine the best actions for a particular system.
Finally, the Amalgamated Transit Union (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.
Consider reaching out to the House General Laws Committee in opposition of CCW on transit for many reasons including sharing your personal story.
MO House General Laws Committee: