Concealed carry on mass transit under consideration

April 1, 2013 (CHICAGO)

A majority of American cities allow mass transit riders to carry weapons, but the issue has caused controversy- in particular with CTA officials.

According to CTA President Forrest Claypool, concealed carry on mass transit would be "a recipe for disaster."

If you can't carry a gun on airplane, he argues, why should you be allowed to carry one on a city bus?

"The number of people confined to such a small space and a weapon discharging - the capacity for multiple injuries and fatalities is enormous," said Claypool.

Others argue that if it is allowed to carry a concealed weapon for self-protection on the public way, that law should be extended to protecting yourself and your property on public transit.

"Everywhere there's been concealed carry, crime has not gone up, so to me, concealed carry works," said Rep. Brandon Phelps.

Phelps, a downstate democrat, is a key player in the General Assembly's effort to fashion a concealed carry law that's been ordered by the court. He agrees that there should be reasonable restrictions on where concealed carry is allowed, but doesn't think mass transit should be among them.

Fourty-nine states have concealed carry, but the way each handles the issue of weapons mass transit varies greatly.

New York City has the biggest transit system in the country. It does allow concealed carry for those with proper permits, but getting the permit in New York is extremely difficult.

The same is true in Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco, among others.

Miami does not allow concealed carry on its mass transit. Nor does St. Louis, or Madison, Wisconsin. And the nation's capital does not permit any concealed carry.

The Illinois House, in a test vote, has said no to concealed carry on public buses and trains, but the final draft has yet to be written.

"I'm for a lot of reasonable restrictions. That's what my bill says, but right now, we're working on letting the transit systems still allow law abiding gun owners to carry their concealed weapons," said Phelps.

Meanwhile, the CTA continues to oppose concealed carry.

"The safety of our customers is paramount and we'll use every tool at our disposal to protect our customers," said Claypool.

The General Assembly has until early June to come up with a concealed carry law.

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