What to do about mass transit and the concealed carry of guns was the topic of an Illinois House Judiciary Committee hearing. Should a passenger be allowed to conceal a weapon on a bus or train? The topic made up a large portion of the testimony offered at the hearing in Chicago Friday.

Laura Calderon, executive director Illinois Public Transportation Association, which represents 50 transit operators in 95 counties, says her members are against allowing concealed carry on mass transit. “I’ve spoken at length with many of our members about this issue, some who have even said ‘I am a gun owner’…but there is just no question that a gun fired within a confined space could easily result in unintended tragic loss of life,” Calderon testified. She says the message from all of her members has been the same: public transportation must provide a safe environment and that could be disrupted with the carrying of concealed weapons. She says the IPTA supports amendments that would ban concealed carry on buses and trains.

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But the National Rifle Association isn’t willing to bend on the issue. “We are very much inclined to keep that in the bill until the end, and we think that just because you avail [yourself] to public transit, because of your economic status or the way your commute runs that you should not be deprived of your right to self-defense,” said NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde.

Others who testified, including the Chicago Transit Authority and the Regional Transportation Authority, all voiced their opposition to allowing concealed carry on mass transit, oftentimes pointing to the restriction of firearms from commercial airplanes.

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