Bill would allow emergency personnel to carry guns on the job - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Bill would allow emergency personnel to carry guns on the job

AMARILLO - A proposed bill that would allow emergency workers in small counties to carry guns on the job is generating a lot of buzz and misconceptions across the state.

"You're the first reporter that's called me or seemed to actually read the bill," Texas House Representative Ken King said when NewsChannel 10 contacted him about House Bill 1531 that he drafted.

A law mandating all emergency responders to carry guns would certainly be controversial, but that's not what H. B. 1531 would do.

"There's some in accuracies floating around that this would mandate an EMS worker to carry a gun, and that's false," King said. "The bottom line is, if you have a CHL, and you have a concealed handgun on you, you can use it while acting in that official capacity."

The idea for the bill came from volunteers firefighters in the panhandle who say they deserve the right to protect themselves regardless of where an emergency is located.

Kent Birdsong is a certified volunteer paramedic and firefighter in Oldham County.

"There have been plenty times that I wish I could have had a gun just because we've been so far remote to get assistance if we needed it, it would have taken another 30 minutes for law enforcement to get there," Birdsong said.

But this law wouldn't only apply to volunteers. It's for all emergency personnel in counties with a population less than 50,000. That includes all panhandle counties except Randall and Potter.
     
Borger firefighters respond to every medical call in town in addition to fires and accidents. But armed policemen only respond when there's a criminal threat, and fireman Evan Schmidt says that can leave his team vulnerable.

"If 100 percent of people were honest when they called 911, well then yeah we would never need a CHL or to carry a gun because PD would be there," Schmidt said.

The chances for a situation to arise that would require a first responder to need to use a gun are slim, but the general consensus among them...

"It's better to have and not need than need it and not have it," Schmidt said.

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