Gun bill allows first responders to start packing heat

First responders across Texas like EMS, firefighters and even volunteer firefighters could soon start packing heat.

First responders across Texas like EMS, firefighters and even volunteer firefighters could soon start packing heat.

Senate Bill 1408 was proposed by Senator Don Huffines from Dallas so first responders can protect themselves when they are out in the field.

The bill has passed the state Senate Committee and is moving to the Senate Floor for a vote.

Silsbee Volunteer Fire Chief Robin Jones said he supports the bill because it would provide extra protection for his staff.

“It would be just in case I can’t back out and push me to the point where I have to do something to protect either me or my guys,” said Jones.

Jones explains when the fire department responds to calls they are prepared to expect the unexpected especially when it comes to his crew's safety.

"It's sad, we’ve got this situation but it’s here, we are going to have to deal with it and it ends up being part of the job," said Jones.

When his firefighters respond to a dangerous call they are taught to stay back so they can wait for law enforcement to respond. This bill would help first responders protect themselves if they feel threatened.  

“Having it out you know can prevent a situation from accelerating into a bad deal,” said Jones.

If passed emergency responders would need to take a 20 hour course before carrying a gun on the job. The bill also protects the department from lawsuits if a gun is fired in self-defense.

Opponents to the bill like Texas Gun Sense which is a gun violence prevention organization argues the bill blurs the lines between first responders.

“Why confuse the situation, why put someone trying to treat a victim to save their life in a role where they feel obligated to go into a building to get the bad guys,” said Vice Chairman Ed Scruggs.

Chief Jones said if the bill passes his staff would only use a gun as a last resort. He explains its very rare in his community to feel unsafe when they are responding to emergencies. 

"This community is behind us 100 percent they are willing to help us all they can like I said it’s rare we run into those off times were we need law enforcement," said Jones.

The bill also states  the gun is meant for self-defense and not to be used for the firefighters and EMS worker’s regular duties.

To read the bill click here. 

 

© 2017 KBMT-TV


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