Reporting Bob Roberts
CHICAGO (CBS) – If gun owners are allowed to ride the CTA armed, its union leaders want to arm transit personnel to the teeth, also.
Amalgamated Transit Union Division 308 President Robert Kelly said the National Rifle Association’s insistence on concealed-carry rights aboard CTA buses and trains is “outrageous and cannot be allowed.” In that respect, he echoes CTA President Forrest Claypool and other Chicago-area transit executives.
“It would be disastrous to allow passengers to carry concealed weapons on our trains and buses,” Claypool said when asked about the topic Thursday, one day before an Illinois House Judiciary Committee hearing in Chicago on concealed-carry legislation.
But Kelly said if concealed guns are allowed on board trains and buses, transit workers should get training, be armed — and should be paid double as cops.
“My members and the CTA employees should get training and have the same right for protection,” Kelly said in a statement Thursday night. “We will also need to be paid accordingly since we will have dual jobs as transit workers and police officers.”
It’s that statement that has caught the CTA’s leadership off-guard, and spokesman Brian Steele said that the transit agency has no comment.
Kelly said he wants to know who will take responsibility when a 10-year-old traveling with a parent is hit by a stray bullet. He said it would hurt ridership and could kill tourism.
“The potential of problems and safety is so enormous that this cannot be allowed,” he said.
NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde told the House Judiciary Committee in Springfield on Tuesday that insistence on the exemption that would bar concealed guns from mass transit could be a deal-breaker in the effort to find compromise on Illinois’ first-ever concealed-carry legislation.
Under the latest 7th U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on the subject, if Illinois cannot pass concealed-carry legislation by mid-June, anyone who holds a valid firearm owner’s identification card will be allowed to carry concealed weapons without restrictions for mass transit and other sensitive locations, including schools, courthouses, hospitals, government buildings and churches.