New legislation proposed in the state of West Virginia would provide the state’s first responders with much-needed protection when responding to emergencies.
Under the state’s current law, first responders like firefighters and ambulance crew members are unable to carry firearms. House Bill 2916, which was introduced in the state’s legislature on Tuesday, would change that. Here’s more from NBC 4i:
The bill would authorize certain first responders to carry firearms. It would also authorize supervisors to authorize ambulance crew members, firefighters, rescue squad members, and emergency service personnel to carry firearms with the completion of training to carry a firearm.
Those allowed to carry firearms would have to first complete a firearms training and certification program. They would also be required to maintain certification in a manner equivalent to members of the State Police.
The delegates that are backing the legislation are David Pethtel (D), Roger Hanshaw (R), and Chad Lovejoy (D).
On a daily basis, first responders, who are unarmed, put themselves in harm’s way or must deal with unexpected situations. While it may not come to mind immediately, there have been cases where firemen responding to house fires have been shot and killed. In 2012, a New York man set fire to a series of homes to bring firefighters to the scene. The man ambushed the responders, wounding multiple and killing two.
The police chief at the time, Gerald Pickering, told reporters, “People get up in the middle of the night to fight fires. They don’t expect to be shot and killed.”
The statement from the former chief, who left the Webster Police Department in 2015, is correct. However, in today’s world, evil is not rational. Evil doesn’t care about what people expect. The delegates in the state of West Virginia seem to be keying in on this fact.
If there’s a way for first responders who are not typically armed to receive training to become armed, to protect not only themselves but whoever they may be trying to help, Americans should be all for it. The legislation appears to be a bipartisan effort, meaning this is not a “left” or “right” issue. Both sides of the aisle should want to keep the nation’s first responders safe and add an extra level of security for those who are receiving their assistance. State’s across the country should follow West Virginia’s suit if their first responders do not have the opportunity to carry.