Tuesday, August 12, 2014

EMS and Firearms - Who Will Carry?

There's one category I will say should be permitted to carry firearms without much thought – that would be Tactical EMS providers, who function with a municipal or regional SWAT/ERT team. They should be trained and meet qualification standards set by the team, and be permitted to at least carry sidearms for defense of themselves and other members of the team.

If it will be regular street providers, then who will they be? Will they self-select? Will the service say that only certain people should be able to carry? Will the service say that certain staff members (supervisors, for example) should carry firearms? What qualifications will be required? What laws apply? Does it change if the service is requiring providers to carry?

My personal opinion would be that the providers should self-select. Carrying a firearm is a heavy responsibility, and something that one really needs to think long and hard about before they do it. Forcing someone to do it isn't really a bright idea.

Many of us elect to carry firearms for self defense off-duty. Likely we would be the core individuals considering carry on duty.

Friday, August 08, 2014

EMS and Firearms - What are the current laws pertaining to EMS carrying firearms?

What are the current laws pertaining to EMS carrying firearms?

PA is a rather pro-gun state. Commonwealth Licenses to Carry Firearms (LCTF) are shall-issue, and inexpensively available from every county sheriff. PA is also an Constitutional Open Carry state, wherein carrying of a firearm openly visible in a holster is legal so long as you aren't in a vehicle or in the City of Philadelphia. A LCTF is required to conceal a firearm in public, or carry one openly in Philadelphia.

If you are carrying a firearm as a duty of employment, then you enter into territory governed by the same laws as armed security. That requires some level of training and certification above the “average citizen” in many states.

There are a few places where carry is either legally questionable or prohibited. These include primary/secondary schools, jails/courthouses/correctional facilities, and areas that are federally prohibited, like federal buildings and the secure section of airports. Additionally, many other businesses post signs that indicate they would prefer folks not bring firearms onto their premises.

Additionally, in Pennsylvania, the State Department of Health currently requires that every licensed EMS agency prohibit non-LEO's from carrying firearms on their ambulances. Even outside PA, most ambulance companies prohibit firearms from their ambulances (and often buildings and premises) as a matter of “good business practice”

Oh, and as always, I'm not a lawyer. This isn't legal advice, etc, etc, etc.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

EMS and Firearms – an Intro

Over the last few years, I've been involved in multiple discussions regarding EMS providers carrying firearms in the performance of their duties. Many of my friends often assume that I'd take the pro-gun side, but my answer is far more complex.

Credit to Kip Teitsort of DT4EMS

In the last week, this has risen to prominence in many EMS circles, with several good friends doing podcasts on it.

For those that don't know, in addition to being a paramedic, I'm a state-licensed Agent under PA's Lethal Weapons Act 235. In short, I've got a PA Armed Security Guard certification. I've carried a firearm for employment, and had additional defensive tactics training. I occasionally work in a gun store, I often carry a concealed firearm for self-defense, I've long been involved in firearms-centric state-level political activism, and I'm a NRA-credentialed instructor and life member. In short, compared with many, I know a LOT about firearms.

Since I'm so pro-gun, folks assume I'm a proponent of EMS being allowed to carry firearms. My response? Not so fast!

First, let me say... I have NO reservations about on-duty commissioned Law Enforcement Officers providing EMS or working on ambulances. They complete significant defensive tactics and firearms training, and have a duty belt full of tools to de-escalate situations if needed. I've been working with folks like this all summer.

Secondly – I have a moderately strong understanding of various firearms-related laws, because if I screw up, I could go to jail, and lose my rights to own guns ever again. That said, I am not a lawyer. Nothing I write should be construed as legal advice in any way/shape/form.

Thirdly – I will try to be general, but some of my answers will be Pennsylvania specific, because that's the area I know best.

If EMS is going to carry, there are a few questions that must be addressed, and over the next week, I will expand on these questions:

What are the current laws pertaining to EMS carrying firearms?
Who will carry firearms?
How will they be carried?
Why is EMS carrying firearms?
What are the risks of EMS carrying firearms?
Where can EMS carry firearms?
What qualifications/training are required?
Who is going to certify those qualifications are met?
How will firearms carry change how EMS is perceived?
Who is going to be liable for EMS providers USING firearms for self-defense?

Weird Al

In the last few weeks, "Weird" Al Yankovic has been all over social media.

His most recent album proves that he's still relevant, and his parodies are just as appreaciated today as they have been for the last 30+ years. I think this album is his best yet.

I enjoy the "Royals" parody the most... partially because I occasionally interact with the "tin foil hat" crowd in my travels.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Well, it's been a busy few weeks out here.

I flew home last week during my 3 days off to see some folks, and pick up a shift at my one job. Why did I need to pick up a shift? Because they said if I didn't work within 90 days, I'd be off the schedule. So I'm now good to have a job to go back to when I finish my temporary government job up here.

Anyway, my encounters with the Thousands Standing Around (http://www.tsa.gov) were unremarkable. Flying out of McCarren, I was running late for a 6am flight, but thankfully there was NO line at security. I opted out of the invasive scanner, and got my free Obamacare health screening from a polite TSA worker.

My Southwest flight home was uneventful. I ended up with a middle seat in an exit row. The flight attendant was VERY clear on making sure those of us seated in that row knew what our roles were, and the flight was slightly early into BWI. As we exited the aircraft, I became aware that the woman sitting across the aisle from me was a sitting US Congresswoman. True to her party, she was sitting on the left side of the plane - but hey, she's flying Southwest, so she's at least attempting to be fiscally Conservative.

Heading back, there was quite a line at 6am at BWI, however it moved rapidly, and I got "randomly selected" for TSA Pre-Check. That was nice. Kept my shoes on, and didn't get groped by some random guy.

The flight home Friday morning was a little bumpy, but otherwise uneventful. I still haven't seen a singing or rapping Southwest flight attendant, and the flight crew going back seemed less enthusiastic than the ones I had Tuesday. We landed back in Vegas on time. I drove straight to work from the airport, and made it in plenty of time.

PS... TSA Pre-Check rant: Because I work for the FedGov, I currently hold a HSPD-12 smart card. If I were a DOD civilian, I would be automatically eligible for Pre-Check, but since I work for a different agency, I'm not. Even though I've had a background check more thorough than TSA's. Government Efficiency right there.