Bills have been introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate this session which would allow individuals with concealed carry permits to carry their firearms on public transit buses, vans, trains, and other spaces owned or operated by a public transit provider. The Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA) understands the reasoning behind these bills is to improve safety on transit. However, allowing firearms on public transit may serve as a detriment to ridership and has not been proven to enhance the safety and security of any system. There is an unacceptable risk on transit vehicles that someone could be harmed if a gun is fired or discharged accidentally. The MPTA opposes any legislation which would allow carrying concealed weapons (CCW) on transit.
The largest Missouri transit providers, including Bi-State Development/Metro Transit; Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA); and City Utilities of Springfield, are providing tens of millions of rides each year and have publicly expressed opposition to conceal and carry on transit. The proposed bill is especially problematic in areas like St. Louis where the system spans both Missouri and Illinois and is governed by a federal compact that prohibits Bi-State Development employees and contractors from carrying weapons that can cause bodily harm. Crimes on the St. Louis transit system are down according to the three police units responsible for patrolling the MetroLink alignment. The KCATA has a partnership with its local police force to patrol the KCATA system. These local partnerships with law enforcement are allowing local control to determine the best actions for a particular system.
Safe, reliable, affordable, and efficient public transportation systems increase access to employment, education, and health care in our region. Access to transit addresses inequities in communities, and public transportation is key to expanding opportunity for all in Missouri. In addition, transit is delivering more than $3 billion in economic impact in the state of Missouri. However, the ridership experience — especially safety and security on platforms, stations, trains, and buses — must be a top priority.
If the public does not have confidence in the system’s safety and security, they are less likely to use the system and support public transit. Allowing individual passengers to carry firearms on transit is not the answer to enhancing the safety and security of these systems.
Kimberly Cella is the executive director of the Missouri Public Transit Association.