Starting Dec. 15, passengers can take their unloaded guns with them aboard a limited number of Amtrak trains. Guns had been banned on all Amtrak trains since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
The key hitch to this new travel freedom: Riders can only carry the guns aboard a train and into a station that offers checked baggage service. Amtrak runs about 300 trains a day nationwide, and less than a third offer checked baggage service.
That means passengers can't carry guns on Amtrak running between Kansas City and St. Louis because they can't check baggage on that route. It also means they won't be able to take a gun on a train to Lawrence or Topeka because those stations don't check bags.
Only about 30 percent of Amtrak's 520 stations, including Kansas City's, offer checked baggage service.
The new law allowing guns on Amtrak includes restrictions similar to those imposed for air travel. Firearms must be stored in checked bags and placed in a locked and hardened container.
The new rule could be a problem in Kansas City, where guns are banned in Union Station, which houses a children's museum, offices and restaurants.
George Guastello, the station's chief executive, is researching how to meet the federal mandate and how it might conflict with state law allowing Union Station to ban firearms. He's also reviewing Amtrak's lease to see if it conflicts with the new gun law.
"We are evaluating how we comply with the federal mandate for Amtrak," Guastello said this week.
Banning firearms in Union Station could prevent guns from winding up where they don't belong in a quasi-public building, Guastello said.
"I don't believe it would be appropriate in a children's museum to have that," he said.
The new law was passed by Congress last year after a senator from Mississippi was able to get support for a proposal to force Amtrak to allow guns or risk losing its funding. The proposal would have required Amtrak to allow guns by last April 1.
Congress approved the proposal but gave Amtrak more time to comply with the new mandate.
Read more of this story at KansasCity.com