Texas lawmakers are considering allowing firefighters and ambulance crews to carry guns while on duty.
House Bill 982, filed by Representative John Wray, R-Waxahachie, would allow first responders to carry their firearm at work if they have a License to Carry (LTC). Wray said the idea is to give them the opportunity to protect themselves at an unsafe scene before police arrive.
Texas does not currently have a statewide rule allowing first responders to carry. Wray said the bill would create that statewide.
Local firefighters said they have concerns.
Patty Faulkner, fire chief and fire marshal for the Lacy Lakeview Volunteer Fire Department, said peace officers have to go through extensive training to carry. They also have to qualify twice a year.
"Are the fire fighters going to have to go through that same training? Are they going to have to qualify twice a year?" Faulkner said.
The bill, however, does not mention any additional training. It only states that a first responder would be able to carry while on duty.
"It's not designed to put them in a peace officer role. It's just to allow them to protect himself or herself in the same manner that any other LTC holder would," Wray said.
David Robinson with the Bellmead Fire Department said he sees how there could be benefits, but there are also concerns.
"I don't want to carry a gun inside of a fire. No one is going to do that. It's not safe," Robinson said. "But where is that gun going to be put? There has to be some way to secure it. I can't just take my gun off and just set it in the truck. There has to be some way that it's secured."
Wray said he is looking into wording that might have to change or things that should be added, but is confident it will become a law.
Robinson and Faulkner said their main concern is whether this would have a negative impact on the community.
"It may take the good guys out of the equation in the public's eye too. Because we've always been that way. We don't carry weapons," Faulkner.
For a look at the bill, click here.
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