Leaders of the CTA, Pace, Metra and Regional Transportation Authority warned state lawmakers that allowing passengers to carry concealed weapons on mass transit could have catastrophic consequences.
The Illinois General Assembly is considering concealed carry legislation in the wake of a federal appeals' court ruling requiring such a policy by June 9. Illinois has no such law on the books now, but the House is holding hearings on the issue.
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"We urge the General Assembly to prohibit individuals who are not trained law enforcement officers from possessing firearms on all forms of mass public transit and transit-related facilities, such as train stations," stated a letter to Speaker Michael Madigan from the heads of all four agencies. They comprise: RTA Executive Director Joe Costello, Metra Executive Director Alex Clifford, Pace Executive Director T.J. Ross and CTA President Forrest Claypool.
"While we respect citizens' Second Amendment rights ... we have significant concerns that allowing individuals to carry firearms on buses, trains and paratransit vehicles will create an unsafe environment for the 2 million passengers that use mass transit every day," the Feb. 14 letter stated.
"No matter which side of the gun-control debate you stand, there is no question that a gun fired within a 45-by-10-foot area, like a crowded bus, would be catastrophic -- whether to an intended or unintended target."
Agency chiefs added that if such legislation passed, "We can expect a decline in ridership because of their perceived lack of security and personal safety."
Gun-rights advocates have argued that law-abiding citizens who are armed can prevent crime from happening.
Meanwhile, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is appealing the federal court's decision.