Texas State Rep. John Wray introduced House Bill 982, which, if passed, would allow first responders and EMTs to carry firearms on the job. Current law requires first responders and EMTs, who are concealed carriers, to disarm themselves, leaving their firearms in their vehicles before responding to a scene.
If passed, HB 982 would allow first responders who are concealed carriers the ability to keep their firearms on their persons when responding to a call.
The bill classifies “first responders” as:
- Public safety employees and volunteers
- Firefighters and volunteer firefighters
- Emergency medical personnel (EMTs) and volunteers
State Rep. John Wray, the bill’s sponsor, explained why he introduced the legislation:
“In the less urban areas… you increase the likelihood that the first responders on the scene will be non-peace officers — such as fire and EMS,” Wray told CBS Dallas Fort-Worth. “Firefighters and EMS do not need to perform a peace officer role, but they certainty have the right to protect themselves.”
Rep. Wray has support for other reasons:
“In many communities across our state, and especially rural Texas, emergency responders, including EMS and firefighters, are solely volunteer and may carry firearms in their everyday life,” Rep. Kyle Kacal said. “The bill, as filed, is intended to relieve the burden of first responders from having to remove and store their firearms before responding to emergencies in firearm-restricted locations. Because timeliness is critical in most emergency situations, I believe it’s necessary to consider any efforts to maximize the effectiveness of emergency response.”
While the legislation has an overall positive response, some aren’t thrilled with the bill’s potential:
“I would be in favor of leaving guns in the hands of police officers,” Waco Fire Chief Bobby Tatum told the Waco Tribune. “We have a specific mission to save lives and property, and I think carrying a firearm would cross the line in that regard.”
Although similar laws have been filed in the past, they did not become law. Wray, however, is hopeful this bill will be different. Currently, HB 982 is still in committee.