West Virginia House passes bill to allow first responders to carry guns

The West Virginia House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that would authorize non-police first responders to carry guns while on duty.

The Herald-Dispatch reported that House Bill 2916, sponsored by Rep. Lovejoy Hanshaw, was approved on a 96-2 vote and will now head to the West Virginia Senate for consideration.

The legislation would allow first responders, namely EMTs and firefighters, to carry guns once they have completed firearms training equivalent to the training required for West Virginia State Police.

The first responders would not be required to carry a gun and could seek reimbursement for the training costs once they become certified.

“We’ve got situations where we’re sending first responders into drug houses and areas of danger, particularly with overdoses,” Lovejoy told The Herald-Dispatch. “They have to wait for police to get there. When they show up, they often are the literal first responders and don’t have police with them in areas of danger. Right now, we don’t let them defend or protect themselves.”