Amtrak and Shooting Irons

I fully admit to conflicting emotions regarding the following:

The Senate voted on Wednesday to allow Amtrak passengers to carry unloaded and locked handguns in checked baggage, even though Amtrak officials had raised concerns that the proposal could present “numerous challenges.”

[…]

Under the Wicker amendment, Amtrak would lose the funds earmarked for it in the must-pass spending bill if it did not comply with the new regulations. In a statement released after the amendment passed, Mr. Wicker stressed that the guidelines laid out in the provision — which would also insist that a passenger notify Amtrak that he or she is transporting a handgun and that only that passenger could unlock the secure container holding the gun — are roughly the same ones used by airline passengers.

Kudos to South Dakota Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune for joining those who voted in favor.

Amtrak carry your gun in the baggage vote by geographic location

Now, here is where the conflict arises. Amtrak has been a money hole for as long as I’ve been alive. It will never break even, let alone be profitable, under government management. Therefore, attaching this gun rights amendment to the bill which will feed the parasite for another year–well, I understand why it works this way, but I still feel slightly unclean.

And for anyone who says “Yeah, but look how much the government is wasting on the war in Somwhereoverthereistan. Amtrak’s budget is just a drop in the bucket compared with that.” I would simply point out that wasteful government spending (perceived or actual) in one area does nothing to justify wasteful government spending in another area.

2 thoughts on “Amtrak and Shooting Irons

  1. Side note: there is a case to be made that Amtrak’s poor performance is not so mucha result of the inherent inability of government to manage anything as having to operate with one competitive arm tied behind its back. Amtrak doesn’t own the rails and has to sidetrack its trains to give priority to private freight haulers. That’s not in itself an argument for nationalizing the rails, just an alternative explanation for the difficulty Amtrak faces in competing for travelers’ business.

    http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/09/07/am-coast-starlight/

  2. CAH,

    If something’s been losing money for better than three decades, it points to a bigger issue. After all, a non-governmental entity would not have been able to stay in business unless it worked out some equitable arrangement with those who own the rails–and figured out how to keep its customers happy at the same time.

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