Texas Senate endorses first responders to lawfully carry a handgun

Texas Senate approves a bill that outlines how it would help keep first responders safe while on duty (Drew Powell ABC 7 News)

Texas State Senator Don Huffines introduced a bill (Senate Bill 1408) that would allow first responders to carry a handgun while on duty. The bill was approved by the Senate on April 18 and is now waiting for a vote by the House before it can go before Governor Greg Abbott.

If the bill is signed into law, as it states right now, it would require a first responder to have a License to Carry (LTC) and they must complete a special training course approved by Texas Department of Public Safety as well as complete 20 extra hours of training.

“By law our guys right now, they can carry but the situation with the way the law is, is currently we do respond to areas that they are not legal to carry a handgun to,” said Larry Davis, Captain with Amarillo Fire Department.

Those areas include hospitals, courthouses, schools and senior citizen centers. Davis tells ABC 7 since the bill would require a first responder to have a license to carry and complete a special training course first responders would have to learn methods to conceal a handgun and methods to ensure carrying the concealed handgun plus understand the consequences of improper use of a handgun.

“We understand there’s a difference between having your concealed carry license and being trained to use a gun in an emergency situation,” said Davis. “We definitely want any personnel to be highly trained as possible to use that weapon in an emergency situation.”

Davis tells ABC 7 News sometimes Fire and EMS respond to calls and need the police to clear the scene. People in support of the bill tell ABC 7 News if the bill passed the House and is signed into law, it will increase the safety of emergency personnel on scene.

“I really think that it’s something that’s overdue,” said Burnie Stokes, owner of Panhandle Gunslingers. “It’s really sad that we have to go for that situation, you know, anytime first responders are put in harm’s way then we need to do something.”

“If somebody is trying to help another person and they’re in that field that if their being confronted like that where it could cost them their life, they should be able to take care of themselves,” said Larry McDowell, gun owner and owner of Crazy Larry’s BBQ. “I’m in support of the bill.”

As defined in the bill (Senate Bill 1408) first responders are identified as firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement and other first responders including volunteer fire fighters and are able to carry concealed handguns in restricted areas.

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