Negative Impacts of Allowing Concealed Weapons on Transit Cannot be Ignored

Letter to the Editor, The Columbia Missourian, January 12, 2024

Bills have been introduced in the Missouri legislature that would allow individuals with a concealed carry permit to bring firearms on public transit buses, vans, trains and other spaces owned or operated by public transit providers. While bills like the recently proposed HB 1708 are intended to help improve safety, it’s imperative that Missouri legislators and residents understand this is not a viable solution.

Much like Amtrak and airplanes – where guns are not allowed – the risk is unthinkable for all passengers and operators should there be an accidental discharge or planned attack in the confinement of closed spaces found on transit vehicles.

Further complicating the issue is the profound negative financial influence the passage of this proposed legislation would have on rural transit providers, including OATS Transit and Southwest Missouri Transportation Services, which are among the largest and oldest rural providers in Missouri and nationwide. Because their riders are largely senior citizens or individuals with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities, rural transit providers receive special grant funding needed to operate. Allowing firearms would be in direct violation of their local contracts and losing the associated funding would translate into a significant loss of local dollars used to draw down much-needed federal funds. It would also impede the ability to bind adequate insurance coverage.

These realities cannot be ignored. Citizens for Modern Transit, the Missouri Public Transit Association and other local organizations urge Missouri legislators to deny these bills. Passing them will be detrimental for Missouri residents.

Kimberly Cella, executive director of both Citizens for Modern Transit and the Missouri Public Transit Association.