Texas Senate approves bill to allow first responders to carry handguns

The Texas Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow first responders to carry handguns while on duty.

The measure — Senate Bill 1408, proposed by Houston firefighter Chris McAllister — passed easily through the Senate and now heads to the House for consideration, Click2Houston reported.

McAllister said he first decided to lobby for the proposal after he and his ambulance crew were threatened by a man with a pistol at the scene of a shooting.

“Nationwide, EMS first responders are assaulted 700,000 times a year,” McAllister said. “We are 30 times more likely to be assaulted than the general public, and we are seven times more likely to be murdered than any other health care professional in the line of duty.”

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Don Huffines, said firefighters and EMTs have the right to be able to protect themselves.

The measure would prevent departments from restricting the concealed carrying of handguns, so long as first responders who want to carry obtain a concealed carry permit and take an extra 20 hours of firearms training.

Among those opposed to the bill are the Houston Fire Department. Ruy Lozano, HFD captain, argued first responders carrying handguns might have slower response times if they had to stop and secure their firearms in restricted areas.

McAllister noted that first responders with concealed carry permits are already allowed to carry handguns so long as their department’s policy does not prohibit them, as the HFD does.

“The public trusts us with their life,” McAllister said. “It only seems appropriate the public would trust us to defend our own lives.”

A similar measure has also been introduced in the House.