A Texas bill has been proposed to allow EMTs and Firefighters permission to carry while on duty.
State Representative John Wray of Waxahachie introduced a bill that would allow all first responders to carry guns in Texas. Wray told CBS Local that, "he certainly isn't trying to increase the duties of first responders, but is focusing on their safety. Firefighters and EMS do not need to perform a peace officer role, but they certainty have the right to protect themselves," he said.
It's a tough call. In some ways, this could add unintended responsibility to an already taxing role.
Often times, firefighters and first responders are on the scene of crime scenes involving shootings, cuttings and other scenarios as a result of criminal activity, without law enforcement. Although trained to ensure the scene is safe prior to engagement, many firefighters and medical personnel are wired to help others, even if it puts their own lives at risk.
On the other hand, situations can escalate and first responders can find themselves in an unsafe situation. Rural fire departments, volunteer organizations or even those who "hit it hard from the yard" could, at times, be miles away from the closest law enforcement agency. If a dangerous situation occurs, this can result in a fight-or-flight situation for the first responder. John Wray, the Republican lawmaker who introduced the bill, believes it can assist when law enforcement cannot.
In my own conversations with other firefighters, a mix of emotions surfaced. Some think this could segway to more training and an increased workload, which could unintentionally make it more difficult for the firefighters and EMS personnel to fight fires and aid in medical services.
Unfortunately, the workload of firefighters and EMTs has increased with the rise in population and decrease in community budgets. Is this really necessary for firefighters and EMS personnel, who are already being stretched thin? Or is it a great idea to help protect those who help protect us? What are your thoughts?