JEFFERSON CITY — Two leading legislative supporters of concealed weapons say they would not try to block efforts by cities to ban hidden pistols on buses and other transportation systems.
Columbia Transit and Para-Transit does not allow weapons on buses. Procedures will not change after Oct. 11 when the concealed weapons permits are issued, Columbia Transit supervisor Mark Grindstaff said.
The sponsor of the concealed weapons bill, Larry Crawford, R-Centertown, said city governments initially would fear the worst and institute restrictions on where concealed weapons may be carried.
Crawford predicted that after 12 to 18 months, concealed weapons will no longer be an issue and restrictions will be relaxed.
“Honest, law-abiding citizens haven’t been able to protect themselves for years, so they’re not losing anything” with current transit restrictions, he said.
House Speaker Pro Tem Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, said he is concerned with those who already carry weapons on public transportation: criminals. He said that not allowing law-abiding citizens to have concealed weapons on board risks their safety.
“They’re probably making a mistake by putting their citizens in harm’s way,” Jetton said of the legislation.
Jetton also said that he thinks crime will be reduced with the new concealed weapons legislation and restrictions will be removed as a result.
Both lawmakers made it clear, however, that they are not criticizing local governments that impose restrictions and that it is the right of municipalities to do so.
Columbia officials are exercising those rights on public transportation as well as in city buildings.
“Safety is the No. 1 concern for us,” Grindstaff said. “The bill will not affect us at all.”
Signs prohibiting weapons are posted on buses and drivers have been trained not to allow anyone carrying weapons on board, Grindstaff said. Drivers would ask anyone they know to be carrying a weapon to leave the bus and would call the dispatch office if the passenger refuses.