On a day dedicated to peace [wikipedia], which I interpret broadly to include lack of violent death, it is shocking to find yet another example of the Second Amendment running amok.
In a shocking genuflection to the gun lobby, the Senate has voted to deny Amtrak its indispensable $1.6 billion federal subsidy unless it allows passengers to transport handguns in their checked luggage. The budget support would be stripped in six months unless Amtrak scraps the gun ban that it wisely adopted five years ago after the terrorist railroad atrocities in Madrid.
The gun ban was adopted under Bush, at roughly the same time the ban on assault weapons was allowed to sunset into oblivion. Yet under a president with a reasonable policy on gun ownership (though tell that to the NRA!), and on public transport, the Senate decided, with the crucial help of 27 Democrats (I did not know the Blue Dogs are *that* influential) and, shame of shame, Bernie Sanders, to force them to make expensive changes for the benefit of some people who somehow believe they are insecure without their sidearms. And the much larger number of people who use gun issues as totemic symbols of individualistic freedom. Seriously, the only moderately dangerous place to which Amtrak goes is the Union Station in Chicago. Why would you need a gun in most places Amtrak go to?
So: Amtrak either coughs up money it does not have to retrofit its baggage cars, or risk losing even more subsidies. Did Senate even consider giving them enough money to make the transition? That would make it bad enough (that a totemic issue gets so much airing), but the funding aspect makes it even worse — this is done by people who, mostly (Sanders excepted), want to see Amtrak die, after which it’s totally irrelevant whether you can bring a bazooka or a Tomahawk on it or not.
When the rest of the Western world has much more sane gun controls (no handguns in the UK unless you have a special license), and China and Spain are spending more money on high-speed rail than the US, and this would most likely get overturned in the House or get vetoed by the President anyway, it is highly nauseating that, of all topics right-wing politicians (dragging the uncourageous with them) choose to make a stand on, they have to stoop so low. In recessionary times, I guess the NRA ka-ching speaks volumes. But given our experience of the totally non-issue-based so-called “debate”, is this any surprise?