KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A bill that would allow concealed carry permit holders to have guns on public transportation passed the Missouri House this week.
Missouri Rep. Adam Schnelting, R-St. Charles, sponsored House Bill 52. He said it has bipartisan support.
“At some point, we all have the potential of running into a situation where we have to employ self-defense,” Schnelting said. “Right now, criminals are already carrying firearms onto our public transit system. This just levels the playing field.”
Currently, no weapons are allowed on Ride KC buses or the streetcar. If passed, the law would apply to all public transportation, excluding Amtrak.
Robbie Makinen, president of Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, has testified against the bill several times when lawmakers have attempted to pass it previously.
“What happens when you then pull it out in a small aluminum tube, and you have a rolling gun battle with somebody on a bus with 35 other people on it?” Makinen asked. “Something’s going to happen, and I’m scared of what that might be.”
As the bill heads to the Senate for discussion, some local riders worry it could create an unsafe environment.
“Policeman who are trained for emergencies shoot the wrong people,” rider Bill Todd said. “I think it’s difficult to be trained well enough to make that a safe option.”
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority said, according to its latest survey of riders, 85% of people feel safe on their buses.
Some riders said they would feel comfortable with designated people carrying a weapon.
“The only people I think that should carry a weapon on the bus is the bus driver or something like that because it could cause a lot of confusion,” rider Lonnie Thomas said.
House Bill 52 would also allow people without permits to bring unloaded guns on buses.
“There’s assaults, rapes, murders, you have burglaries, and we’re just talking about the more violent ones, but you also have a lot of petty crimes as well,” Schnelting said. “So it really boils down to citizens and passengers being able to defend themselves.”
Makinen said KCATA has a safe record without guns allowed on buses.
“We’ve had probably 16 incidents or so in a whole year out of 6 or 7 million rides,” Makinen said. “Out of that, probably one of those, three maybe tops, involve a firearm, not discharged but involved a firearm.”
Some riders FOX4 talked to said they have mixed feelings about people carrying guns on buses.
“I think it’s a good and kind of a bad situation because you don’t know how other people are thinking and their mindsets,” rider Devontae Wagner said.
FOX4 put up a poll on Twitter to ask if guns should be allowed on buses, at last check, 85% said no and 15% said yes.
For the bill to become a law, it must pass the Senate and the governor must sign it.
There could be bit of a gray area in Kansas City because Ride KC services both sides of the state line, and weapons are not allowed on public transportation in Kansas.