WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Texas could soon make it legal for first responders, including volunteer firemen, to conceal carry handguns while on duty.
Don Huffines of Dallas sponsored Senate Bill 1408 will be discussed and voted on the Texas floor Tuesday, April 18th.
In the past Senator Huffines has made the argument that "the risk of assault for EMS personnel is 30 times higher than other professions in the United States," and that his bill could give them a better opportunity to protect themselves.
However, some first responders worry that a new freedom to conceal carry a handgun on the job might give the wrong impression to the public if they show up packing heat to the scene.
"We're there to help and we don't want that image to be blurred or that line to be blurred or line to be crossed even if it's just a perception," said Travis County EMS Captain Darren Noak.
However, Senator Huffines believes the recent sniper attacks on law enforcement in downtown Dallas, which many first responders were on scene for, is a perfect example of just how dangerous the job can be for those in the field.
A survey by the National Association of EMT's finds just more than half of all medics reported being assaulted by a patient sometime in their career. If a first responder did shoot someone while on duty, it would be a defense from prosecution per Huffines bill.
Even if the bill is passed it might not be allowed in many cities as most local governments only allow law enforcement to be armed while on duty. However, Senator Huffines believes that this bill could force a change to many of those local policies.
A similar bill filed in the House has cleared committee but not yet been scheduled for a floor vote there.