Even in a Constitutional Carry state like Missouri, there are some places off-limits to legal gun owners, including bus, light rail, and train services. That could soon change, however. On Tuesday the Missouri House gave preliminary approval to a measure that would repeal the ban on concealed carry on public transportation, as long as the individual carrying a firearm has a concealed carry license.
Rep. Adam Schnelting is the author of the measure, which was introduced shortly before the shooting of a security guard outside of a St. Louis Metrolink light rail station. We’ve also seen a rise in robberies and assaults outside of train stations and bus stops in Chicago, where firearms are also banned on public transportation.
The gun-free zones are a magnet for criminals, and also prevent legal gun owners from carrying not just on buses or light rail, but before and after they use public transportation. For those relying on buses or trains to get around, the prohibition on lawful carry amounts to a total disarmament any time they venture beyond walking distance of their home.
Not that any of those arguments matter to those opposed to the change.
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, credited Schnelting for limiting the measure to only those with a concealed carry permit. But, he said his constituents who use the MetroLink train and city buses oppose allowing weapons.
“Adding guns to the equation actually makes people less safe, not more,” Merideth said.
Taulby Roach, who oversees Metro as the head of the Bi-State Development Agency, earlier said allowing people in spaces such as trains and buses to legally pack firearms is “untenable” for public safety.
Both Merideth and Roach are off-base with their arguments. First, we know that concealed carry holders are more law-abiding than the general population, at least based on arrest statistics and license revocations. And it’s not like St. Louis and Kansas City would be the first metropolitan areas to allow concealed holders to lawfully carry on a city bus or light rail car. In fact, that’s been the law in Atlanta (and the rest of the state of Georgia) for over a decade.
Texas law has allowed for concealed carry on public transportation for even longer, and back in 2016 the state’s open-carry legislation was approved, which included ending the prohibition on open carrying in systems like Dallas’s DART buses and rail.
So, yes, it’s quite tenable to have concealed carry holders lawfully carrying in spaces like trains and buses, and it’s absurd for Roach to claim otherwise. Does Mr. Roach believe that St. Louis residents are inherently less law-abiding than folks who live in Dallas, Houston, or Atlanta? Or does he just want to maintain the status quo because of his own personal opinion?
It’s also really not a good look for Roach, who pulls in a salary of $280,000 per year as the head of the Bi-State Development, to so blithely dismiss the concerns of riders who would like to be able to protect themselves on their way to and from work. Many of Metro’s riders aren’t taking the bus or train out of some desire to cut down on their carbon emissions, but because they can’t afford a car. Why should their right to self-defense be negated because of their income level?
The obvious answer is that there is no good reason to curtail the ability of lower-income St. Louis residents and other riders to be able to protect themselves, both on public transportation and before and after they reach their destination. The Missouri House made the right decision in giving preliminary approval to getting rid of the ban. Let’s hope the bill gets as warm a reception in the state Senate and eventually from Gov. Brad Parson.