“Gun-free zones” are a useful fiction for anti-gun activists, but in reality these supposedly sensitive places are hardly ever secured enough to prevent bad actors or those with criminal intent from willfully and wantonly disregarding the prohibition on carrying a gun or using it in the commission of a crime. A case in point: public transportation. While many cities (and a handful of states) prohibit lawful concealed carry on public buses or light rail, that doesn’t mean those places are crime-free. Far from it. Here are just a few headlines from the past couple of days.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen we’ve seen several legal challenges to the carry bans on public transportation in places like Washington, D.C. and the state of Illinois, and now some Missouri lawmakers are taking aim at the Show Me State’s designation of public transport as “gun-free zones.”
The Missouri House of Representatives is expected to soon debate a bill allowing for firearms on public transportation, allowing concealed carry holders to bring a gun on to MetroLink, or any public transportation, for self-defense.
MetroLink stops often have unarmed security guards working to protect riders but strictly ban any rider from bringing a gun onto the bus or train.
A bill working through the Missouri House would change that. Some metro riders here aren’t convinced.
“It’s going to be a wild, wild west free for all,” said Mike Moultrie, a MetroLink rider.
Moultrie is skeptical of allowing guns on the MetroLink. He knows it could help a law-abiding citizen but worries it could lead to more violence.
“We already got violence that’s happening on the MetroLink from kids 16 to 24, and so many guns that’s illegal to be on these streets,” said Moultrie.
Sounds like it’s already a “Wild West free for all”, at least for criminals in the St. Louis area who are routinely disregarding the policy banning weapons from Metrolink property. The legislation under consideration in the Missouri House would simply allow for peaceable gun owners to protect themselves in a space currently off-limits to lawful carry, but open to all those willing to break the law.
The bill from St. Charles Rep Adam Schnelting allows those with concealed carry permits to bring a firearm onto MetroLink, whether it’s concealed or not.
Last year, a man, Manu Barge, was shot and killed on a MetroLink train outside Forest Park.
“It’s about protecting the right of you as a passenger to be able to defend yourself, should you find yourself in that situation,” said Schnelting.
Gun rights activist Susan Meyers, the Missouri Chair for the DC Project, testified in favor of the bill.
She told News 4 that she believes gun-free zones should not exist except for a few minor exceptions.
“Cut down on those places to be a target for criminals. They’ll have to stop and think about it a little harder,” said Meyers.
There were at least 660 incidents on the Metrolink system last year, and likely many more that weren’t reported to police. It’s downright silly to claim that the transportation network’s policy prohibiting lawful concealed carry is making riders any safer, while there’s a very strong case to be made that these types of bans are unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s “text, history, and tradition” test. The legal challenges that are underway in D.C. and Illinois will take some time to make their way through the court system, however, and if Missouri can undo its own restrictions via legislation instead of litigation that would be better for all involved. Well, almost everyone. I’m sure the criminals who can currently count on a target-rich environment would be unhappy about the increased likelihood of encountering an armed citizen, but those riders who are just trying to safely get to their destination would benefit far more by being able to protect themselves while riding a city bus or a waiting for the next train to arrive than having to hope and pray that a “gun-free zone” will save them from harm.