JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI — Missouri lawmakers are considering a proposal which would eliminate charges against law abiding concealed carriers riding on public transportation. The proposed measure would not affect Amtrak riders, who are covered underneath Federal regulations, but would apply to those who work and ride on buses and shuttles. At present, it is a felony in the state of Missouri to carry a firearm onto a public transit vehicle.
As Mid-Missouri Public Radio KBIA reports, Republican Sen. Bob Onder told a Senate panel that this new measure is all about public safety. He cited that public transit can get quite violent and nasty. Giving those who ride public transit a chance to defend themselves is a matter of self defense. Missouri’s major cities, St. Louis, Springfield and Kansas City, have all opposed this recent measure saying that they would rather be given the authority to decide whether it should be legal or not.
As we’ve seen in the past, when local authorities have the ability to dictate when concealed carry is lawful or not, it causes a lot of confusion for people transitioning from one locality to another. If St. Louis chose to enforce “gun free” public transit (because let’s be honest, criminals can’t read those signs) and Kansas City decided concealed carry was alright, you could have some travelers inadvertently breaking the law.
The point of uniform state law is to reduce the probability that an otherwise law abiding concealed carrier is now potentially facing felony charges. Allowing local governments to choose for themselves seems like a great idea on the surface, but we’ve already seen plenty of instances where old county or city regulations ultimately come back to bite a good guy in the behind.
This is a slippery slope sort of political debacle because on one hand, more autonomy is almost always better for the individual. On the other hand, where confusion can arise and good guys stand to lose out — that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, we live in a time where so many old ordinances, regulations, and odd by-laws are tattered but intact in the archives that we honestly require a small army of lawyers and legislators to find out what’s what.
One more law to set the record straight on a statewide level isn’t a bad thing. If anything, if it gives the opportunity for some single mother taking the bus home after a long shift to be able to stay armed and protect herself — I’m all for it. All Americans deserve the right to protect themselves from the nastiness that tends to pervade public transit.
Criminals don’t deserve a monopoly on fear — and concealed carriers refuse to give it to them. Now we just need the law to reflect that. A good guy with a gun deserves the right to go home without fear.