A Kansas law, which became effective on July 1, 2016, makes it legal for firefighters and EMS personnel to have a concealed carry weapon while on duty. The only exception is for school zones or private buildings specifically marked or designated as ‘gun free.’ Public employers, such as city and county governments, cannot prohibit their employees from carrying on duty.
We asked EMS1 columnists to react to the legislative change in Kansas and to answer this question, “As an EMS leader, educator and advocate what is the one thing EMS providers should consider before carrying a concealed weapon in the ambulance?”
Catherine Counts: Bull in a China Shop
I’ve been shooting guns since the rifle barrels were taller than I was, but I agree with responsible ownership and training. There is a time and place for concealed carry, but the back of an ambulance is one of the last places a gun belongs.
This law feels like ploy on the emotions and allegiance of first responders posing as a win for gun rights advocates. The gun debate our country is facing is so much larger than a single state law protecting a small subset of its citizens. This is a law putting intention, perception and reality into a three way tug-of-war.
I have trouble believing that EMS was the intended target. More often than not we are the forgotten half-brother when policy makers create “first responder” laws. This feels no different, especially given the current political climate. That said EMS is covered under this law so I agree that a measured discussion is necessary.
This is reminiscent of a Bull in a China Shop scenario, and I mean that literally. When Mythbusters tested this myth they were shocked to realize that when you put a bull (or two) in a corral full of breakable items, the bulls are surprisingly nimble. I see the same thing happening here. Yes this law exists, but the outcry surrounding it seems disproportional to what the implementation will look like. Just because the law is there, doesn’t mean everyone is going to immediately take advantage of their new found freedom.
As I’ve previously discussed, the vast majority of LODDs are somehow connected to vehicles or traffic. However, if LODD standards were amended to include mental health issues, it’s highly likely that PTSD would eclipse all other causes of death exponentially. If state legislatures really want to show support for first responders they should start with the extreme emotional toll this profession takes on police, fire, and EMS personnel and their families.