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Will Virginia EMT’s Be Granted Right To Carry Firearms?

Well, to be precise, it wouldn't be granting anything.

More properly, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is considering recognizing a human right that supercedes any state regulation.

Continuing the general regulatory trend started by Governor Mark Warner (D), and continued by Governor Bob McDonnell (R), Virginia is continuing to strike more state regulations banning gun carry. This time it's Old Domination ambulance crews who will regain their right to bear arms.

Allow me to make a prediction on what will happen if Virginia ambulance crews start to carry weapons:

NOTHING.

No blood in the streets, no Wild West-style shootouts (largely a Hollywood fiction in which most anti-gun types fervently believe), no EMT's bustin' caps in unruly patients, no unruly patients disarming those ignorant, untrained EMT's and shooting them with their own weapons, no EMT's barging into unsafe scenes  bolstered with a misplaced sense of invulnerability because they're packing heat.

NOTHING.

Each one of those arguments is a favorite of people who fear guns, know little about guns, and project their own fear and ignorance on everyone else who would potentially carry a gun. And they keep not happening.

I remember at an EMS convention a few years back, I was invited to participate in a live podcast from the exhibit hall floor. The event was co-located with a major law enforcement expo, and as a result, there were plenty of tables and booths crowded with pistols, sniper rifles, M4 carbines and other tactical gear, sandwiched between the EMS booths.

I arrived late, just in time to begin recording, and as I got miked up, one of the podcast hosts teased me that the reason I arrived late is that I was distracted by all the tables of shiny weapons on the way in. Another guest, a good friend and respected EMS educator and innovator, remarked that he was happy to be from one of the few states left that banned concealed carry of firearms.

I smiled and said, "Not for long," as his state had shall-issue concealed carry legislation pending (which eventually passed). He replied, "Well, at least no one is carrying guns here."

I leaned in and whispered, "How do you know that? There are no signs posted as required by law at every entrance and exit, at least not in the parking garage entrance. There might be someone carrying a weapon sitting right next to you. Considering the state we're in, I wouldn't doubt that 20% of the people here are packing."

Apparently, he didn't consider me a threat, because we continued the podcast and even went out to sign karaoke together later that night. And as his state's concealed carry legislation neared passing, we kept up a friendly dialogue about the process.

People will be resorting to vigilante justice.

Didn't happen.

Just watch, some CCW holder is going to get shot by police, or vice versa, in some tragic mixup.

Didn't happen.

They're gonna let people carry weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol. I can just see the drunken shootouts now.

Didn't happen.

Lord, people are applying by the thousands. I never knew my state had so many bloodthirsty rednecks.

So far, no reports of those bloodthirsty rednecks engaging in crime.

Of course, that's the point. Everywhere gun rights restrictions are eased, people afraid of guns keep making dire predictions, and those predictions keep not happening.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on May 5, 2012 that concealed carry laws applied even on college campuses.

Any drunken fraternity shootings? Any professors shot by students dissatisfied with their grades? 

Didn't happen.

I predict that allowing concealed carry by EMT's in Virginia will have exactly the same effect that allowing college students to carry had in Colorado: none.

None, except that ambulances and college campuses are no longer guaranteed victim disarmament zones. That's sort of the point.

I don't carry a weapon on duty at The Borg. Number one, it's against company policy, and when I cash The Borg's paycheck, I agree to abide by their rules. I leave my activism at the door to the ambulance station. Number two, I really never felt the need to carry at work. Now, if The Borg and the state of Louisiana suddenly decided to take a page from Virginia's book, would I carry?

Yes, definitely.

I'd have the same mindset that I have every day I carry a weapon in civilian clothes, the same mindset shared by 99.9% of all people who choose to carry a firearm: "Please God, don't let me have to shoot anyone today."

And we'd take those steps necessary to make that possibility unlikely; we'd be wary of our surroundings, and we'd avoid places and situations that put us in danger if at all possible. But it's the unpredictable dangers that make carrying a weapon necessary. No one purchasing a fire extinguisher plans to have their house catch fire, after all.

I wouldn't carry openly at work. I don't believe much in the deterrent factor anyway, nor do I believe it makes me a likelier target for attackers. But I do believe it would erase a line in the minds of some of my patients who view police as the adversary and medics to be, if not friendlies, at least non-combatants. Playing the "You can trust me, I'm not the po po," angle is useful to me in my line of work. I'd like to keep the ability to do that.

When I carried openly before I got my concealed hangun license, activism was as much a goal as self defense. I wanted people to see a guy carrying a gun openly who wasn't being a complete asshole itching for a confrontation with the cops; just a benign neighborly type, non-threatening, Ned Flanders with a 1911.

Carrying openly at work, it simply isn't possible to project that image.

If the idea of your EMT's carrying weapons fills you with trepidation, I know exactly where you're coming from. In fact, I used to have the same concerns. Here's what I said back then:
 

I’m not saying EMTs shouldn’t defend themselves. I’m not even opposed to the abstract idea of CCW while on the job. It’s just that most EMTs I know who insist on carrying weapons are just the sort of EMTs who shouldn’t…well…be EMTs. Much less armed EMTs.

They cannot communicate effectively. They lack empathy and compassion. They’re hotheaded. Every patient encounter is an adversarial relationship. They conduct patient interviews like police interrogations. When the feces strike the thermal agitator, they’re the type who thinks shouting orders and throwing their weight around constitutes effective leadership and good crisis management. They’re just not…reasonable people. A reasonable person with a concealed weapon is one of the safest people you will ever meet…and one of the most dangerous, depending on how you approach him. An unreasonable person with a firearm is just plain dangerous, regardless of whether you’re law abiding or not.

Here’s a hint: if you have shown off your carry weapon to your co-workers, you’re just the sort of goober I’m talking about. And here’s the sad thing – most law enforcement agencies wouldn’t have you either, Sergeant Tackleberry.

My opinion was based on classic selection bias; all the people I knew who carried on-duty were idiots, therefore I assumed that every EMT who carried on-duty was an idiot. I later learned that was not the case.

Not every EMT in Virginia is going to rush out to the gun store, Visa card in hand, and breathlessly ask, "Say buddy, what's the best heater for taking down a 300-pound meth-head in excited delirium when 5 of Haldol IM, 10 of intranasal Versed, three shocks with a Tazer and several whacks with a D oxygen cylinder have failed to slow him down? Gimme two of those, and a 30-round mag… just in case."

Much more likely to happen is that a bunch of EMT's who already have concealed carry permits – all over 21, having passed a criminal background check and completed a training course, I might add – will start carrying at work… and very few others will.

And those permit holders are already among the most law-abiding citizens in society.

About 6.3 times less likely to break the law than the average member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in fact.

If you're a Virginia resident and you support the right to keep and bear arms, voice your support for the measure here.

 

Comments - Add Yours

  • http://blog.heyaaron.com/ Aaron C. de Bruyn

    Good for them.

    It does change one thing though–I’ll never call 911 again. I don’t allow armed government officials into my home.

    If a ‘bad guy’ breaks into my home intent on kidnapping me, I can shoot him.

    Try that when a cop kicks in your door because he’s pissed, or a self-righteous paramedic decides he wants to intervene in something that is none of his business: http://ambulancedriverfiles.com/2012/05/16/in-which-a-bunch-of-libertarian-types-go-full-wookie/

  • Ambulance_Driver

    Almost unanimous support for repealing the ban in the public comments thus far.

    I lurve Virgina people. Gonna have a blast speaking there in November.

  • Ambulance_Driver

    Comb the tangles out of your Wookie pelt, Aaron.

    They’re not government officials, they’re private citizens finally allowed to protect themselves in their workplace.

    They don’t have arrest powers, and they’re not going to come barging into your home at gunpoint, even if they do believe you’re a danger to yourself or others.

    That’s the cops job.

    Of course, if you choose to not call 911, we’re more than happy to not respond.

    • http://blog.heyaaron.com/ Aaron C. de Bruyn

      Don’t get me wrong–I’m glad people are ‘finally’ allowed to protect themselves. (I don’t believe the government can deprive you of that right in the first place.)

      Sure, maybe 90% of the time I’ll get a decent man or woman, paramedic or police officer when I call 911–but the life of my family is too important for me to risk it on inviting people into my home who have the power to execute my loved ones, then later claim it was an ‘accident’ or ‘he was reaching for something’ or in the case of my dog ‘he attacked me’.

      And I think what you mean to say is “Of course–if you choose to not call 911, but a neighbor who doesn’t like you *does* call and makes some shit up like “He’s suicidal”, we’ll be glad to show up and (without due process) deprive you of your liberty.”

      • Ambulance_Driver

        No, what I said is what I meant to say.

        But I see you’re still on the whole “EMT’s strong arming innocent people to the booby hatch on dubious grounds” kick, all arguments otherwise be damned. Believe what you want to believe, no matter how paranoid.

        But I’d submit that if YOU called 911 for help, then the chances of an EMT’s gun getting drawn are infinitesimally small, and on a par with a fellow CCW holder suddenly hallucinating the face of Osama bin Laden on his waiter’s body at the local Ptomaine Palace, and shooting up the whole joint, yourself included.

        In other words, not gonna happen.

        And that is an entirely different animal than SOMEONE ELSE calling 911, and being a mean old busybody, telling lies on you to the po po and EMS, isn’t it?

        And as we’ve already established in previous floggings of a dead horse, you’d likely be barricaded in your home and ready to take on all comers in that situation anyway, so what would it matter?

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  • Old_NFO

    Well said, and it should cut down on the dirty little secret of ALS units getting robbed for their “drugs”…

  • http://cursesfoiledagain2.wordpress.com Jake

    Of course, it’s a well-known secret in many parts of Virginia that many already carry on duty. Too many have arrived on scene for that “possible heart attack” or “flu-like symptoms” call to find it’s actually a GSW to the chest or an assault, and the closest deputy is 10 minutes away if he really pushes it. Yeah, you back out fast in that situation, but you’re already well behind the reaction curve if it goes all wahooni-shaped.

    AFAIK, the state Office of EMS has never made an issue of it, because it was never supposed to be there in the first place. It was left in the final draft of the 2003 revisions by mistake (other sections on the same topic were removed, but that got missed). A VCDL member actually got an email from OEMS in response to his inquiry back in 2007 stating that “We have administratively directed our field staff to not enforce this specific provision of the regulations.” (scroll down to #6).

    I personally am aware of one local high profile incident where staffing of staged units was arranged specifically so that at least one person with a CCW was on each ambulance, and everybody there knew it. (Since it was technically in violation of the regs, I can’t in good conscience go into any more detail.)

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Like I said, I lurve Virginia people. ;)

  • Bill

    Got the notice from the VCDL newsletter yesterday. Went right on over and posted my support for the repeal.

  • PARAMEDIC70002

    I’ll confess, I’m the guy who initially contacted VCDL about the errant regulation, and started this whole ball rolling years ago.

    OEMS is just finally getting around to erasing that mistake from the regulations; state Office of EMS Compliance Mnager Mike Berg authored a letter to the President of VCDL years ago saying it would not be enforced, but it could not be removed from the printed regulations until the next revision, which doesn’t happen every year.

    Bottom line, nothing new is happening here in VA. Most EMS agencies had and continue to have policies prohibiting their employees from carrying firearms (and other things like pepper gas). Heck some agencies have “non violence” policies that virtually mandate you let an assailant have his way with you, because defending yourself could be construed into a firing offense for participating in “violence.”

    Meanwhile, EMS workers across America continue to be threatened with deadly violence on a regular basis. We are not far from a tipping point when the public will no longer be able to pretend the problem does not exist.

  • PARAMEDIC70002

    By the way, great article!

  • http://www.wallsofthecity.net/ Linoge

    Thanks for the linkage, and here is to hoping VA’s government grows a clue/spine!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kort.anderson.1 Kort Anderson

    I think with the proper training its a great idea
    …..

  • Dan

    Unfortunately I’ve seen the other extreme. I worked for a California company in the 1980s. During my time with the company we had medics engaging in Code 3 pursuits. We also had more than a few packing illegally. Many of these guys were cop wannabes, doing EMS until they could hook up with a law enforcement agency. Then we had the EMT-B who had a car trunk full of military grade weaponry.

    There was an unwritten rule in my hometown-those ambulance guys are neutral. That rule went out the window the afternoon two of my crews jumped into the middle of a brawl between folks and the cops. Totally changed the relationship between residents and EMS in one of our poorest neighborhoods.

  • Allen Haynes

    EXCELLENT ARTICLE!!!!

  • Jarrod

    Dan, fortunately things have changed. Most emts and paramedics want to be just that. Paramedics. I do agree ems should be seen as neutral. Just because we may have guns doesn’t mean we are cops. Just like a cop with an AED is not a paramedic.

  • Not a goat rider

    Well that takes the case of bullshit post of the week.

    Despite the drivel, the rhetoric, you did explain to me why you need to carry a concealed firearm.

    Rather than belittle anyone or their opinion – obviously you have lumped anyone against the concept in the same boat- justify your need.

    Granting need in the abscence of a negative you don’t agree with is lame.

    • http://blog.heyaaron.com/ Aaron C. de Bruyn

      Justify your ‘need’ to speak freely on this subject.

      Where do you get ‘grant’ from? It’s not a ‘grant’ to carry a firearm. It’s a ‘right’. Regardless of who you are. The government can’t abridge it, infringe on it, or dismiss it. Just like you don’t have to get permission to speak freely or worship whom you please–you also don’t need permission to own and carry a gun.

      It also doesn’t matter if they are government employees. What matters is private property rights. If you don’t want an EMT or Paramedic with a gun on your property, tell them to get out. Likewise with an ‘ordinary’ citizen.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      He who engages in ad hominem attacks and invective hath already lost the argument.

      If you’d rather trade insults than argue facts, we have nothing to discuss.

      If you have nothing to counter facts but fear and emotion, I will not convince you.

      I will, however, remind you of my rules of conduct here on this blog: Insult one more person, and you’re banned forever.

      If you want to engage in a civilized debate, I’m game.

      • Meet on the level

        I would say you should follow your own guidelines with those whom you disagree with. And that is coming from someone in EMS that agrees with what VA is approving. It just makes it easier to argue your opinion when not belittling others who disagree with you. I don’t agree with goat rider, but your approach to him on scale, is why he wouldn’t want you to carry in EMS.

        • Ambulance_Driver

          Not sure what you mean there.

          Care to elaborate?

          • Meet on the level

            From your post down below….
            Comb the tangles out of your Wookie pelt, Aaron

          • Meet on the level

            Although I DO get a chuckle from this, it weakens the debate…and like you said above, “If you’d rather trade insults than argue facts, we have nothing to discuss.”

            Stay calm, meet on the level! You seem very intelligent and seems you offer your opinions better without the insults that you speak out again (when directed at you).

          • Meet on the level

            and this below as well…..from you…
            “No, what I said is what I meant to say.
            But I see you’re still on the whole “EMT’s strong arming innocent people to the booby hatch on dubious grounds” kick, all arguments otherwise be damned. Believe what you want to believe, no matter how paranoid.”

            Like I said…I agree with you, just not your approach to others opinions.

          • Ambulance_Driver

            Ahhh, but that goes back to an epic debate thread from months back between Aaron and I.
            It got rougher and rowdier than this, believe me. ;)

        • Ambulance_Driver

          What do you mean?

          He opens with “bullshit post of the week” and “drivel” and accuses me of belittling people before any negative comments have even been made, and when I remind him of the rules of conduct on this blog, you think I’m being too harsh?

          Nope, not too harsh at all. I refused to engage with him as long as the rhetoric was going to be insults and name calling, and challenged him to a civil debate.

          Frankly, I don’t see what you think I’m being ugly to him about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.hulsman Sean Hulsman

    Will the EMT’s be required to attend regular classes on shooting and be asked to qualify as law enforcement officers do? Will they go through ancillary training on how to protect that weapon on their sides while focusing almost all of their attention on a patient? Will they participate in academy-style scenarios on how and when to properly use a side-arm, considering that the percent of calls in which there is a weapon on scene is about to jump to almost 100%?

    • Ambulance_Driver

      All good questions to ask, Sean.

      My counter would be, I don’t think EMT’s should open carry. I think the deterrent value is overstated, but I also think the fear that it makes you a bigger target is also overstated.

      I think concealed carry would be the way to go, and when a weapon is properly concealed, retention becomes far less of an issue. You can grab for something you didn’t know was there, can you?

      I think CHL classes should have more stringent marksmanship requirements and more scenario-based training, but it is a misconception that CHL classes do not cover such things.

      In fact, other than basic handgun safety, almost the entire classroom portion is dedicated to self-defense laws and non-violent conflict resolution. In other words, they teach you how to win a gunfight by staying out of one.

      Law enforcement training in this regard is also overstated. Police marksmanship in real-life self defense situations is notoriously bad, and most cops practice with their firearms rarely, if ever. That is becoming even more common with tightening training budgets.

      Just about every cop I know who is good with a firearm is so because he is a firearms enthusiast and shooter, not because of his academy training.

      The same would apply to hobby shooters and CHL holders, would it not?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-Petrash/616198030 Sean Petrash

    You’ve all heard of the golden rule. “he who has the guns makes the rules.” I’d rather it be the People than unaccountable politicians armies.

  • Chris

    False Sense of security thats all I have to say on the matter. That is something that carrying a gun will create for even the most confident, comfortable providers out there.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Hogwash. You’re projecting.

      I carry a weapon every day, and I get no false sense of security from it. I fervently hope I never have to use it.
      And if anything, I am even MORE careful when I am carrying.

  • mpatk

    I don’t think EMS should carry weapons while working for various reasons that have been stated before (patient care can cause problems with keeping the weapon in your reach and out of others’ reach); but that’s the reason I won’t carry, not a reason for preventing others from carrying.

    The Virginia method is IMHO exactly the right way. It allows people WHO ALREADY ARE LICENSED TO CARRY to bring their weapons to work. It doesn’t make an exemption for EMS workers, and it doesn’t (god forbid) require EMS to carry. A person should not be allowed concealed carry because they’re in EMS; they should be allowed concealed carry because they meet the same requirements that anyone else meets for concealed carry.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      EXACTLY.

  • Guest

    What happen when they take their patient to a hospital that prohibits carrying of firearms? Many hospitals are complying Joint Commission guidelines that prohibit the carrying of firearms.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      That’s a big obstacle, no doubt.

      But JC only prohibits private citizens from carrying firearms, and in many states, that prohibition isn’t binding. The most they can do is ask you to leave, and that’s IF the proper signage is posted.

      But how difficult would it be to exempt on-duty EMT’s from that provision? Law enforcement officers are.

      One of the many things that would have to be worked out if it passes.

    • City medic

      Most hospitals have allowed medics to carry just like they let the police do just concealed.

  • Daniel

    Our service already has gone out of their way to buy all providers Vests that they require us to wear. I mean violence has gotten even more apparent and at times even more brazen. Sparing you all the stories the same fear was brought up when the vests were issued. The fear that it would create a false sense of security. That was never an issue. If anything it has created even more awareness of your surroundings and many of our providers started watching over their shoulders more versus just taking it as a false sense. So granted my view is a bit slighted but to me its just another layer of security to protect ourselves.

  • City medic

    I rather be judged by 12 ppl then carried by 6!!!. If you knew how many CWP holders tht are on the job and carrying you would be shocked, but you won’t know cause we carry concealed!!!! And look there isn’t any mass killing by medics happening any where!!

  • http://emsbasics.com/ Brandon Oto

    “I wouldn’t carry openly at work. I don’t believe much in the deterrent factor anyway, nor do I believe it makes me a likelier target for attackers. But I do believe it would erase a line in the minds of some of my patients who view police as the adversary and medics to be, if not friendlies, at least non-combatants. Playing the “You can trust me, I’m not the po po,” angle is useful to me in my line of work. I’d like to keep the ability to do that.”

    This is always my big concern. The best defense we have, and one of the best tools for building a rapport with difficult patients, is the ability to wave a little Swiss Army flag and truthfully declare “me good guy! me here to help!” Open carry as part of the uniform would very much go against that, but concealed carry perhaps would not, so I’m partially sold. The trouble, of course, is that unless individual service policies and attitudes change (particularly in the privates, a la the long arm of the Borg), it remains something of a talisman, because god forbid you ever use the thing on duty.

  • CPL_Primeaux

    We had a new basic(I was not at the call) run into a gun shot victims home. He figured the scene was safe because people were coming in and out of the home. So he runs in starts working on this guy and a few minutes later he looks around and realizes no one is around anymore. The guy who shot the home owner saw the ambulance at the scene and went back into the house to finish the guy off. The basic said he jumped out that window so fast. Hes lucky he didnt get shot. I also heard stories about in some of the bad areas gangs will hunt medics. They will shoot someone and when the medics get out there they get “extra points” for killing a medic. Disgusting.

  • Scott

    I am an EMT allowed to carry a gun in my state, and that is because I went through almost 1,000 hours of law enforcement / tactical medical training to get certified as a Tactical Emergency Medical Specialist (TEMS). If you want to carry a gun at work go join the police depts local tactical team as a medic.

    Remember the motto of EMS is do no harm, if there is harm that needs to be done call the police on the radio (Half of them use the motto “get some!”)

  • Susan

    A related story. My family is from North Carolina. Sitting in my brother’s gun safe is a Remington 870 short barrel that our grandfather bought in the 1960s. He was the Fire Chief of a small town then. He carried the shotgun on fire calls during the racial riots of the 60s. His men were running into situations where fires had been deliberately set and the responding units were being forcibly prevented from fighting the fires. He rode the truck, carrying the 870, to provide protection for his men if the rioters started attacking them.

  • CaryLynEMS2010

    Hi, I and my partner were assaulted 2 years ago in NH….our injuries are severe and the bills crowding a Million dollars. !!! Our story was shut down, the facts covered up, the judicial system let her go with 7 arrests, 3 felonies and multiple misdeameanors. Please contact me Am working on a bill as we speak…could use some help and truth…….

  • firegeezer

    I was a firefighter in 1968-1970 when a wave of civil insurrection swept the Washington, D.C. area beginning with the MLK riots in April ’68. During that time I can affirm that every single FF had a pocket pistol with him at all times. There wasn’t any rule against it, but if there was we would have carried anyway. It was rough out there and we were in the middle of things.
    One of my life’s most memorable moments was operating a pump at a commercial fire with a ring of about 12 cops in riot gear surrounding my pumper with their backs to me and shotguns cocked.
    And no…none of us ever brandished, let alone used our john roscoes.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Phillips/1265731335 Charles Phillips

    I have been an EMS professional for 34 years and have never needed a firearm to do my job. I think that anyone working in our field who thinks that their personal safety would be enhanced by carrying a firearm is living in a fantasy world. In fact, I would venture to say my chances of being shot by my own gun would be enhanced. We work in close quarters with our patients. What would stop a crazy or criminal from taking your gun away from you and shooting you and/or your partner? The author of this article sounds like he got his talking points from a National Rifle Association lobbyist. On top of the legal and safety issues that carrying concealed weapons on ambulances would present, what about the insurance issues? How many insurance companies will insure ambulance services that permitted their employees to carry firearms? I would bet no company would touch that one with a 10 foot pole. Colleagues, lets leave law enforcement and dealing with our safety to the law enforcement professionals and we’ll take care of the sick and injured.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      The author of this article did not get his talking points from a NRA lobbyist. Nor is he totally sold on the idea, or believes it will work. If you didn't get that, you need to read the article again.
      Now, once you've read it again, let's see if we can discuss this without rancor; you without your obvious anti-gun bias, and me without my pro-gun bias.
      1. On your issues of potentially being disarmed by a patient, I agree it is a concern. However, it is a concern easily addressed by training in weapons retention, and when carrying a concealed weapon, isn't a concern at all. How will the patient grab your weapon if he doesn't know it's there?
      Moreover, if he's likely to grab your weapon and shoot you with it, then why the heck is he in your rig unrestrained? That's a failure both in safety and patient assessment that would endanger your life whether or not a gun was involved.
      2. I have been an EMS professional for 20 years, and I have never felt like I needed a weapon to do my job, either. That was also stated in the article, which you either missed or ignored.
      That does not change the fact that MY experience or YOUR experience is the same as EVERYONE'S experience, Charles. And for that reason, I feel it morally wrong to deny another human being the tools to defend himself, if the law and company policy allows it. Is that so hard to understand?
      Self-defense is first and foremost a personal responsibility. I'll defend myself in the manner I deem necessary, and I expect others to do the same.
      3. There are huge issues to overcome, many of which you have mentioned. I'm not even sure some if them could be overcome. That does not change the fact that, if some state and EMS agency DOES see the need and manages to overcome those obstacles, who are we to tell them otherwise?
      These ideas don't come out of thin air. They come up for a reason. Do you honestly believe that an EMS agency would take such a huge step unless they had already decided the benefits outweighed the risks?
      If this happened at your agency, and you morally objected to it, you'd be free to go elsewhere. No one would force a gun into your hand. Of those employees that remained, only a few would carry, and they already belong to a demographic that us among the safest and most law-abiding in society.
      I understand this is a hot-button issue, and we should be devoting our time to other, more pressing issues in EMS.
      But insulting each other whenever this issue comes up neither solves it, nor makes it go away. It only the entrenches the positions of the people on the other side if the debate.
      Don't you think that's counterproductive?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Phillips/1265731335 Charles Phillips

        Kelly, let me address your issues point by point:

        You are correct, I have an anti-gun bias. I’m a Vietnam War veteran and have seen the carnage of guns first hand and that experience plus living in countries that have strict gun laws have convinced me that guns (like nuclear weapons) kill people despite how much training an individual may have. Guns are designed for one thing only and that’s to kill and to call them a tool is a misnomer. And to say that a sane law abiding person with a gun will not have a lapse of judgment and shoot someone (even by accident) is pure fantasy (look at Dick Cheney!!). When the 2nd Amendment war written we lived in a rural, pioneer society and guns were important for survival. That’s not the case today. Some of our nation’s cities are like 1980’s Beirut! The proliferation of firearms is out of control and it’s because of the NRA (and their firearms manufacturer sponsors) that make reasonable gun control laws impossible. How many more innocent people need to be killed by crazy people with assault weapons? Remember Virginia Tech, Aurora, etc.

        1. On your issues of potentially being disarmed by a patient, I agree it is a concern. However, it is a concern easily addressed by training in weapons retention, and when carrying a concealed weapon, isn’t a concern at all. How will the patient grab your weapon if he doesn’t know it’s there? Moreover, if he’s likely to grab your weapon and shoot you with it, then why the heck is he in your rig unrestrained? That’s a failure both in safety and patient assessment that would endanger your life whether or not a gun was involved.

        CP: If you’re wearing a polo shirt and paramedic pants, where do you safely conceal a handgun? All patients do not initially come across as combative. I have seen those who change in the back of the ambulance and sometimes it’s not easy regaining control. I don’t think a firearm will deter most crazy folks, do you?

        2. And for that reason, I feel it morally wrong to deny another human being the tools to defend himself, if the law and company policy allows it. Is that so hard to understand?

        CP: You need to realize that a firearm is a tool. It can’t fix your car or toilet or garage door opener. It is designed for one purpose only and that’s to kill.

        As I stated before there’s a BIG liability issue here and that’s wrongful injuries/deaths connected with arming your staff. Do you really think that an ambulance service could afford the liability insurance to arm all or part of their staff or that an insurance company would even write a liability policy? And heaven help you if your partner or a first responder or a young child were to be hit by a bullet from your gun.

        I know I probably didn’t change your mind but I hope I brought up some issues that would make you think about some of the consequences of arming EMS personnel. Thanks for putting this issue out there.

        • Ambulance_Driver

          Charles, thank you for your military service.

          To counter some of your points, other countries had success in enacting fun control laws because they had far fewer guns to begin with, and the culture was far different. And those gun control laws may have drastically reduced GUN violence, but they have done very little to curb violent crime at all, and in some cases it has risen.
          And I will disagree with you on our Second Amendment. Our Founding Fathers did not write it to assure that pioneers could keep their squirrel rifles and their fowling pieces. They wrote it because they knew better than anyone else -from direct experience – the power if an oppressive government, and write the Second Amendment as a safeguard against it. The meaning of “the militia” has been debated ad nauseum, but most Constitutional scholars, and our Supreme Court , agree that it means the citizenry.
          Is armed revolution possible again? I doubt it and I certainly hope not, but I would argue that historically the possibility of it has kept our government excesses in check and preserved many of our freedoms, where other countries have not.
          You start by saying that the idea that guns are a tool is a misnomer, and later contradict yourself by saying that they are indeed a tool, albeit one with a singular deadly purpose.
          A tool only has zero purpose until it is used. You fail to distinguish between violent and predatory and violent but protective. As long as there are violent and predatory people out there (and there will ALWAYS be such people), I prefer to have the same tools at my disposal.
          And almost all of our cities that are like 1980’s Beirut are places where only the criminals have guns. With Aurora and Virginia Tech, those “gun free zones” only ensured that the shooters were guaranteed that no one would shoot back.
          So how are gun laws going to work if criminals don’t obey the law? Because removing the guns from U.S. society is never going to work. It’s unrealistic, magical thinking.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Phillips/1265731335 Charles Phillips

            I screwed up in my typing! Firearms are NOT tools, never have been and never will be! They are designed for one purpose only, to kill.

            You never did address the liability issue. Name one liability insurance company that will sign off on EMT’s and paramedics carrying firearms while on duty. And if you’re lucky enough to find one, how expensive would a liability policy cost an ambulance service? You may have the law on your side in certain areas of this country but I doubt you will ever have the insurance industry on your side. It all comes down to the bucks!

          • Ambulance_Driver

            Sorry, I wasn’t trying to address all of your points.

            The insurance liability issue is problematic, and may well be one of those we can’t solve.

        • Ambulance_Driver

          And by the way, I conceal a handgun under a polo shirt and paramedic style pants quite easily, thank you, but never on duty.

  • cltmedicman

    Screw CCW just give me a taser
    Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for CCW and carry off duty, but the
    instances in which I would need to use lethal force on duty are so
    remote that I may never come across such an instance in my entire
    career. Adequate awareness of your surroundings, whether or not you
    carry a CCW, is the most important thing that will keep you safe. I
    tell every partner that I ride with that if they feel something is off
    or wrong and think we shouldn’t be there, all they have to do is motion
    to me and we are gone. My and my partner’s safety is always top
    priority. There are many more instances where a taser would be a better
    tool than a CCW. Most of the threats you encounter on the scene are
    not of a nature that would require deadly force, as you have stated.
    Even though I would like to carry a taser, it’s use would still be of
    the few and far between category. Even though it isn’t needed, nor
    would I ever see myself using it on duty, I am with Kelly Grayson in
    saying that if given the opportunity I would carry. Because, even
    though the situation that it would be needed is 1 in a million, it is
    still a life or death situation. The same goes for surgical
    cricothyrotomy. It is a 1 in a million procedure, but when it is
    needed, it is the only thing that could save their life.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      It is indeed a remote possibility, but as the saying goes, “You never need a gun until you REALLY need a gun.”
      On the subject of Tazers, and keep in mind I am NOT using this as an argument for firearms over Tazers, could you foresee Tazers becoming overused and abused by the EMT’s who carry them?
      When police officers started carrying them, they were intended as a less-than-lethal option for when officers feared for their lives or faced serious bodily harm.
      Yet now, they are quite frequently used as a compliance tool, and in cases where they are abused, a “Don’t sass me, I’m a cop” tool.
      Kelly Grayson

      • cltmedicman

        I agree with you about the fact that “you never need a gun until you Really need a gun” which is why I stated if given the opportunity I would concealed carry. Yes I could see tazers overused and abused, but the people that overuse and abuse them will be subject to disciplinary action just as if they misused a defibrillator. I think there are too many logistical issues with EMT’s carrying guns. Such as, what are we to do when entering a government building, jail, airport, etc… With a tazer, we could circumvent this without too much fuss.

        • Ambulance_Driver

          Agreed.

  • Nick

    Dude, your completely off your rocker. The only way we can assert power over you is if you aren’t alert and oriented enough to make a decision….and the decision has to be in your best medical interest.

    An EMT or Paramedic carrying a firearm would be subject to the same rules and rights as anyone else….and probably be under even more scrutiny than police officers.

    But as was already said, feel free not to call 911. Get a DNR order while your at it.
    No sense in interrupting my beauty sleep for someone who doesn’t want the help….

    • http://blog.heyaaron.com/ Aaron C. de Bruyn

      So let’s see if I get this right:

      A (usually) government ambulance service requires me to pay taxes to fund them. I *must* pay these taxes or the IRS will seize my house, imprison me, and sell off my assets. Hell–they could even execute me if they were annoyed enough.

      This ambulance service that I *must* pay for then turns around and says that if I want help, it *will* only be given by government employees that carry guns.

      And those employees that carry guns *do* have the ability to take you against your will to a hospital. Regardless of who dialed 911.

      No thanks.

      • Ambulance_Driver

        1. Most ambulance services, even the municipal ones, are not taxpayer-funded, at least not directly. They operate on a fee -for service basis from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. Those that do receive a tax subsidy almost universally do so via local sales taxes and property taxes. There hasn’t been any federal funding for ambulance services since the early 1980’s.
        2. Over 60% of ambulance operations in this country are staffed by volunteers. The other 40% are divided among private, for-profit EMS providers, fire department-based EMS, municipal third service EMS and hospital-based EMS. Only the FD and third-service guys *might* be classified as government employees, and then only municipal ones, and rarely are they civil service positions.
        3. Paramedics do not have police powers. None of them are going to come into your home and take you away against your will, a fact we have covered ad nauseum, which you either refuse to accept in your paranoia, or are too obtuse to understand. If a paramedic takes you anywhere against your will, it is in the role of a transport provider for the police to a MEDICAL facility, rendering medical treatment along the way.
        The idea of some paramedic barging into your home at gunpoint, without credible evidence of an intent to harm yourself or others, and without police involvement (and they usually call us, not the other way around), is not only incorrect, it’s blatantly false, and you continuing to argue the point is just fucking silly.
        4. When YOU dial 911 for medical assistance, you have tacitly asked for help. You are legally free to refuse that help at any point in the patient-provider interaction, provided you are capable of making rational decisions about your care and well-being, and you can understand the risks of your refusal. And THAT decision is based on well-defined, OBJECTIVE criteria.
        5. Did I mention your argument is fucking silly, and paranoid to the extreme? Don’t call 911 if you don’t want to. No one much really cares.

        • http://blog.heyaaron.com/ Aaron C. de Bruyn

          1. Maybe so, but not in my area. While they billed the patient (insurance, medicare, whatever) per-transport, they also had a levy which raised property taxes.

          2. I don’t want an armed representative of the government in my house. It doesn’t matter if they volunteer or not.

          3. Does it really matter who signs on the bottom line? The point is (like in the previous post on the topic) that you are willfully participating in violating the rights of an individual. Now apparently while armed. If I did that it would be a crime, but when you do it with the blessing of The State, it’s ok.

          4. Who gets to decide if I’m making ‘rational’ decisions. The State? Hmm… And when someone else calls 911 on my behalf? Then who makes the decisions?

          5. Once again, we’re going to force you to pay for a service in which you must…oh nevermind. What’s the point? You obviously think so highly of yourself and fellow EMS members that you are above reproach. No EMT will ever screw up and violate someone’s rights. No government will ever grow too oppressive like Nazi Germany, or China, or North Korea, or Iran…especially not the United States. But if it does happen and The State starts violating rights, it’s simply an ‘isolated incident’–or ‘a few bad apples’. And I know I can count on you to stand up for individual rights. …as long as you can’t rationalize it by saying you’re just a ‘transport’ and it’s the police that are really doing it…

          But I’m apparently being ‘fucking silly’, and ‘paranoid to the extreme’ which is a perfectly logical and well-thought-out response to my points. You win.

          • Ambulance_Driver

            I’ve debated with logical and well-thought-out arguments. You reject them in favor of absolutist rhetoric and fantasy scenarios.
            I apologize for calling your arguments fucking silly. You win the libertarian ideological purity test, Aaron.
            Congratulations.

          • http://blog.heyaaron.com/ Aaron C. de Bruyn

            With all due respect, no, you haven’t debated them. You’ve dismissed them.

            I made several points above that you simply chose to ignore.

            Start with this one: Will our government continue to be more and more oppressive eventually ending up leaving the people in a totalitarian, fascist, or communist state by slowly eroding our rights?

            If ‘no’, how are we different than every other nation in the history of the world including Rome, the Icelandic Commonwealth, etc…?

            If ‘yes’, why would you give the government an inch to even start down that path–such as requiring you to get a ‘permit’ (permission) to get married, travel freely (in a vehicle), or carry a gun?

          • Ambulance_Driver

            Jesus, I’m not debating *that* point with you, Aaron. Have you not figured that out? On that point, we are in agreement.
            What I am debating with you is your insistence on classifying prehospital healthcare providers as agents of *the government.*
            They are not, no matter how you choose to believe otherwise.

            That’s the crux of our disagreement right there, and the basis for me accusing you of being unable to distinguish the sheep from the goats.
            When you see *everybody* as the enemy, then there is no point in the debate. The real world is composed of shades of gray. Defining everything in black and white is the refuge of the fanatic.
            There’s no point in debating this further, because we’re not going to change each other’s mind. Hell, we’re not even speaking the same language.

          • http://blog.heyaaron.com/ Aaron C. de Bruyn

            Lol–I don’t mean to piss you off. So if we agree that the government will become more and more abusive of our rights and freedoms why would you give an inch?

            I don’t see *everybody* as the enemy. I see the *government* as the enemy.

            …and when I call 911, who will respond? Everybody? Or the government? Now with firearms in Virginia.

            If you ever come out to Washington State to give a talk, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee–I owe you that much at least for badgering the crap out of you. (And I won’t complain about the ~7% sales tax either.)

          • Ambulance_Driver

            You’re right, when you call 911, you may get an agent if the government.
            Unless you have a medical complaint that requires a paramedic. ;)

            And I’ll take you up on that offer. With beer, even. ;)

  • Ambulance_Driver

    1. That was wrong, and a violation of the man’s rights.

    2. Show me in that article where EMT’s were involved.

    3. Sounds like the only EMT’s that might be involved are only tangential, as members of Oath Keepers, and they’re *supporting* Raub.
    4. One sign of clinical paranoia is an inability to tell the sheep from the goats. Or maybe you’re right, and *everybody* IS out to get you.

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  • navywings

    Agree 100%. Here in Arizona the liberals went nuts when they proposed a bill allowing the concealed carry of firearms in “bars.” They predicted wild west shootouts like the OK Corral. They seriously said that among other things. Well it passed in September 2009. It’s been 3 years and guess what? Nothing. No gunfights. No blood in the streets. Not even MWAG (man with a gun) calls. Liberals defend their position based on emotion. It’s really the only thing they have since there is no data supporting their position.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pascal.hay Pascal Hay

    I guess I have sounded like one of
    those afraid of guns in some of my posts. Let me assure you I am not. I am POST
    certified and a commissioned officer of the court. I could carry while on duty
    and it is legal. I choose not to because my job is to treat patients. I have
    tried to point out that there is more responsibility for us to carry a weapon
    on the job than if we just carry it while off duty.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.petkofski Alex Petkofski

    We all took an oath to do no harm and do our best to save every life. Police officers get paid to use force when deemed necessary…we don’t. I believe that being allowed to carry on the job will severely damage the way that the public views us.

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