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?

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