State lawmakers met for the second time this week to talk about issues surrounding legislation that would allow people to carry guns outside the home, with much of the focus on today’s hearing about whether passengers should be allowed to bring guns on trains and buses.
Gun rights advocates argue that people should be allowed to protect themselves from crime on their daily commute. But Chicago police and transit officials contend it’s a dangerous scenario that puts riders at an increased risk of being shot.
“Allowing people to carry concealed weapons in a confined space like a bus or a train, especially on an elevated track or a subway, would create an unsafe environment for the more than two million people who use mass transit in Illinois every day,” said Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool. “It would be a recipe for disaster.”
Claypool argued that crime has decreased across the transit system in the last year. He said just three people were shot while riding the CTA last year, none of which were fatal. He worried that number would increase; saying the potential for accidental shootings would be high.
Meanwhile, officials with the Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the CTA, said there also are financial concerns. They contend ridership could decrease if people are afraid to use mass transit because the person they are smashed against during rush hour has a gun strapped to their waist.
“I’ve read recently people advocating carrying (guns) on an El,” said 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman, a former House member. “I would assume that none of the people that have advocated that have ever ridden on an El.”
But Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said he believed the opposition to guns on public transit was more an attempt by lawmakers to set up a complex network of restricted places that guns could not be carried.
“I think what happens is you have these people trying to draw out these large circles,” Vandermyde said, adding that the group is not willing to compromise on the matter “at this point.”
Lawmakers face a June deadline to craft a law allowing for concealed carry after the state’s longtime ban was struck down by a federal appeals court late last year. Attorney General Lisa Madigan had asked the court to reconsider the ruling, but that request was rejected on Friday.
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