House allows EMT, firefighters to carry firearms while on duty

By LACIE PIERSON

The Herald-Dispatch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill that would allow non-police first responders to carry firearms, as long as they have proper training, has passed the West Virginia House of Delegates.

The committee substitute for House Bill 2916 passed by a margin of 96-2.

Del. Chad Lovejoy, D-Cabell, was a co-sponsor of the bill with Del. David Pethtel, D-Wetzel, and Del. Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay.

The bill will advance to the Senate for its members’ consideration.

The goal of the bill is to allow firefighters and members of ambulance crews to carry firearms so long as they complete firearms training and have earned certification equivalent to what is required of members of the West Virginia State Police.

The legislation would not make it mandatory for non-police responders to carry a firearm.

If firefighters, emergency medical service personnel or ambulance crew members complete the training, they can seek reimbursement of the costs from their respective departments and authorities.

“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 earlier this month. “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.”

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