SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A growing number of states, including Louisiana, are now allowing or considering the ability for first responders to carry a concealed weapon.
Emergency crews often respond to the very same dangerous situations as law enforcement. But in Louisiana, most employers don't allow them to carry a concealed weapon.
State Representative Larry Bagley from Stonewall has introduced House Bill 186 that would allow those first responders to carry a concealed weapon if they have a permit for it.
"If something were to happen I'd like for them to be able to protect themselves. It's as simple as that," explained Rep. Bagley.
While they are already instructed to wait for law enforcement to secure a scene before entering, not every scenario starts out dangerous.
"I'm more concerned with the ones that go into areas where they're possibly attacked for no good reason. Or they're trying to get in or out and someone else decides that they don't want that to happen," added Bagley.
While there appears to be some support for Bagley's bill, there are some concerns, especially the potential blurring of lines between medical care and law enforcement. That includes Balentine Ambulance Service Communications Director Casey McBeath.
McBeath supports a provision in the bill that says first responders are allowed to carry a concealed weapon, but they must qualify every year in the use of firearms by the Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
"For some agencies with special circumstances it could be a great tool to be used," said McBeath.
But McBeath cautioned that allowing first responders to carry a concealed weapon should require more training beforehand as well.
Representative Bagley says his bill has not come up for consideration yet in Baton Rouge.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Kansas approved a similar bill last year, while Texas and South Carolina are the latest states considering similar laws.