KC Paper Slams Bill Allowing Guns On Public Transportation

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A new bill introduced in the Missouri State Senate would remove the prohibitions on lawfully carrying a firearm on public transportation, but anti-gun advocates say the bill “could increase the likelihood” of more violence. Sen. Greg Razer, a Kansas City Democrat, says the legislation is simply a “bad bill,” but the editors of the Kansas City Star are a bit more loquacious in their opposition.

The paper claims in a new editorial that Sen. Bob Onder’s legislation is a “risk proposition that lawmakers should soundly reject,” though their argument leaves a lot to be desired.

The legislation was filed in response to a series of high-profile violent incidents on the 46-mile, 38-station MetroLink light rail system operated by Bi-State Development in St. Louis. But Kansas City has no equivalent transit system.

Razer is aware that 2020, when 182 people were killed, was the deadliest year on record in Kansas City. He also understands the issues plaguing St. Louis, which recorded 262 homicides last year, its worst homicide rate in 50 years. Both cities contribute to Missouri’s morbid standing as the state with the highest Black homicide death rates in the nation.

So, what’s the best solution to address the growing body count? Approving more guns in public, apparently, says Sen. Onder. A one-size-fits-all approach to reducing violence does little to improve public safety.

MetroLink security guards and other contracted non-police personnel are prohibited from carrying deadly weapons. The transit agency employs officers from regional police departments for security as a result.

“St. Louis has issues that Kansas City doesn’t,” Razer said. “There is no need for a statewide law. St. Louis needs to figure it out.”

The reason for a statewide law is simple. The residents of Kansas City have the same Second Amendment rights as folks in St. Louis, and there’s no good reason to deny individuals who rely on public transportation their right of self-defense both before and after they ride the bus.

In fact, it’s dumbfounding to me that the editors of the Star never acknowledge that the purpose of public transportation is get people from one place to another. Instead, their argument is based entirely on the fact that crime on Kansas City buses is fairly uncommon.

Violent incidents rarely occur on RideKC buses and other vehicles. Only 16 disturbances were reported last year by the agency, said Robbie Makinen, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. Weapons were recovered in four of those instances — a minuscule number for a regionwide transportation system that provides nearly 60,000 trips per day.

That’s great, but it misses the point entirely. Legal gun owners who want to carry on public transportation aren’t interested solely in protecting themselves while they’re on a bus or a train. They also want to be able to protect themselves before and after they get on public transport, but are unable to do so when bringing a lawfully-owned firearm onto a bus or a train is against the law.
The actual effect of the prohibition means that if you can afford private transportation, your Second Amendment rights are more intact than those forced to rely on a city-owned bus or municipal rail service. That makes no sense at all, unless you’re fine with making the exercise of a constitutionally-protected right contingent on your income level. Perhaps the editorial board of the Kansas City Star is okay with denying lower-income residents their ability to protect themselves, but in my view the new legislation makes perfect sense.
We also know that in other cities like Chicago, criminals are indeed targeting bus and train riders, likely because they know that with guns banned on public transportation, they’re far more likely to find unarmed victims to prey on. Sooner or later the criminals of Kansas City will figure that out as well. It would be nice if those dependent on public transportation gain the ability to legally carry in self-defense before they do.