Amtrak to allow guns to be checked
Amtrak travelers will soon be allowed to check guns and ammunition on some rail cars. The new policy takes effect Dec. 15.
Congress passed a law in December 2009 requiring the change in policy as part of a transportation funding bill. A ban was put in place after 9/11 due to concerns that allowing weapons aboard the trains would increase the risk of terrorism. The Transportation Security Administration already allows guns to be transported in checked baggage aboard airplanes under strict guidelines.
Amtrak officials said the rail agency spent about $2 million to implement the new policy, which included changes to its reservation system, the installation of "secure storage at checked baggage train stations" and modification for 142 baggage cars. Officials noted that checked baggage service is not available aboard all Amtrak trains or routes, but it must be available on all trains and at all stations in a person's itinerary if they wish to transport guns or ammunition.
Here are Amtrak's guidelines on the new policy:
-- Passengers must call Amtrak at least 24 hours before departure to notify the rail agency that they will be checking guns or ammunition. Call Amtrak at 800-USA-RAIL. Online reservations won't be accepted. You'll also need to complete a form declaring the weapons on the first day of travel.
-- Guns and ammunition must be checked at least 30 minutes before departure, earlier at some larger stations.
-- All firearms must be unloaded and in an approved, locked hard-sided container, which can't weigh more than 50 pounds.
-- 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 firearm must be declared.
-- All ammunition carried must be securely packed in the original container; in fiber, wood, or metal boxes; or in other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. The maximum weight of ammunition and containers may not exceed 11 pounds.
-- All other Amtrak checked baggage policies apply, including limits on the number of pieces of checked baggage and the maximum weight of each piece (50 pounds).
-- BB guns and compressed air guns will be treated as firearms.
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