Can I Bring My Conceal Carry Weapon On An Amtrak Train?
Trains are possibly one of the most fuel efficient modes of ground transportation in the country. And for those living in densely populated areas, they're also the safest. However, that doesn't stop crime from happening on the platform or rail car. A big question a lot of concealed carry permit holders ask us is, “can I take my gun on an Amtrak train?”
Short answer: Yes you can but only as declared and checked baggage. Take a look at Amtrak's policies.
As of December 15, 2010, Amtrak allows firearms to be checked as baggage. This was the direct result of the Senate vote held in 2009. They cannot, however, be taken on as carry-on luggage. In order to do this, the traveler must make a reservation for that firearm to be transported. It must be unloaded and placed within a locked hard-box case. Ammunition must be kept in its original manufacturer's container – specifically the wood, metal, or fiber container it came in from the producer. And the maximum storage capacity for ammunition and firearms cannot exceed 11 lbs for pistols and 50 lbs for rifles and shotguns.
What If I Have a Concealed Carry Permit!
Sorry, no love from Amtrak on this one. Amtrak isn't a private company – not yet anyways. it's covered under federal protection similar to that granted to federal courthouses, federal reserve, and other facilities. And until it gets privatized, it will likely remain that way.
Strangely, this is mostly enforced by states – even though federal charges can be brought up. One case is that of Montana. They specifically forbid the carrying of firearms on a train unless in an official capacity (law enforcement, etc.). The punishment isn't too terribly bad but it may cause your state to revoke your concealed carry permit once they find out.
What Happens At Final Destination?
When you reach the final destination of your Amtrak ride, a representative will hand you back your firearms and ammunition case. At that point, it is up to you to know the federal, state, and local laws governing the carrying of concealed firearms. As an Amtrak station is considered federal property and thus held under the same accords as the train itself, you may not be permitted to arm yourself until you are off the premises entirely.
The good news? You can bring your firearms with you to almost any location Amtrak travels. The bad news is that you cannot have your firearms on you (read: accessible) while on the train or at the station. If you're concerned about whether or not your firearm can be on you after you've left the premises – check with reciprocity rules for the concealed carrying of firearms.
Thinking about carrying anyway?
Think again. The penalties for being caught with a firearm in your direct possession while on an Amtrak train are the same as being caught on a commercial airliner. And this isn't just for Amtrak trains specifically – this is for all common access modes of transportation.
If you change your mind and decide to drive instead, there are a few things you should know before traveling across state lines with a concealed carry pistol.
About The Author
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.