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House of Delegates approves firearms for first responders


The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the West Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill Monday, March 20 that would allow paramedics, firefighters, reserve deputies and other first responders to carry guns.

The legislation, House Bill 2916, would leave the decision of whether to allow individual first responders to carry guns up to individual agencies, and would require those authorized to have guns to receive firearms training equivalent to that given to State Police or deputy sheriffs, according to Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, vice chairman of the House judiciary committee and one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

Some first responders had asked to be allowed to carry guns because ambulance crews and firefighters sometimes get to the scene of a crime before the police. Delegate Dave Pethtel, D-Wetzel, who was lead sponsor of the bill, said ambulance crews had told him they had taken people to the hospital only to find out they were carrying guns.

Delgate Amy Summers, R-Taylor, a nurse and a former member of an ambulance crew, said she was a little worried paramedics would be too wrapped up trying to save someone’s life in the field to pay close attention to making sure their weapons were secure. But Summers said she would trust that would not happen.

The bill passed by a vote of 96-2.

Also Monday, the West Virginia Senate passed a bill that would allow distilleries and mini-distilleries in the state to serve samples and sell liquor on Sundays.

Senate Bill 290 passed by a vote of 27-4.

Last year, the Legislature passed the “brunch bill,” which allowed restaurants to serve alcohol beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays if counties passed referendum votes to allow it. Under the law at the time, alcohol could not be sold before 1 p.m. on Sundays, and liquor could not be sold at all.

A bill is also working its way through the Legislature to allow liquor sales on Sundays in retail stores.

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