West Carlisle Fire/EMS question first responder license to carry - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

West Carlisle Fire/EMS question first responder license to carry bill

Smith (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs) Smith (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)

It is a bill lawmakers hope will protect first responders from dangerous scenes as they work to save lives.

House Bill 982 was filed by a republican representative from Waxahachie who believes firefighters  and ambulance crews have the right to carry their firearm at work if they have their license to carry.

"For personal protection, I believe concealed handgun carry is the way to go," West Carlisle Fire/EMS director Tim Smith said. "Everyone should carry a concealed handgun unfortunately in the world we live in today."

However, Smith is not so sure he wants a firearm he is licensed to carry on him as he performs his first responder duties.

"They're an emergency medical service role," Smith said. "Firefighters, same way. They're firefighters…not police officers."

Smith said they do not even come to a scene before police give them the clear.

"If it's such a dangerous situation that requires law enforcement personnel…does EMS really need to be up there?" he asked.

Smith also would not want a gun on him while treating a patient in an ambulance.

"Sometimes patients are combative, sometimes they're fighting…sometimes they do it on purpose, sometimes they don't," he said. "So you want the possibility of that handgun being taken from you by a patience in the back of an ambulance?"

Then, Smith said there's the issue of not being able to take the gun into a hospital.

"Only a peace officer can carry a gun into a hospital," he said.

Smith also would not want a gun with him inside a structure that is on fire.

"Before I go into your house fire, I have to secure that handgun into some sort of lockbox or some kind of locked containment," he said.

A Lubbock resident, who wanted to go only by his first name of Eric, also has concerns about this bill because he said the bill doesn't say anything about additional training.

"They work hard jobs," he said. "They don't need a second or third job dealing with lethal force. Police are better trained at that."

Eric said he wonders if he would feel as trusting of these first responders if they carried guns.

"People might be afraid to call," he said.

Smith never wants anyone in need to question their intentions.

"We still want to be considered the good guys."

But this is not the first time Smith has heard of a bill like this before, and the legislation has never made it past his concerns.

"It looks good in the corner, but when you start tugging on it, it changes the dynamics of everything else around it," he said, "and so we've all got to look at that and consider that before we are allowed to carry handguns."

Officials with the Lubbock Fire Department said they will not take a stand on this bill at this time, but will wait and see what the legislature does so they can act accordingly.

KCBD did reach out to UMC for comment, but have not received a response.

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