Bill: Let Ga. firefighters arm themselves

By Scott Johnson, General assignment reporter, sjohnson@wjxt.com
Published On: Jan 24 2014 02:57:42 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 24 2014 07:03:34 PM EST

VIDEO: Lawmakers are considering a new bill that would allow firefighters to carry a weapon, while on duty.

CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. -

A firefighter's goal is to save lives. Now the Georgia Legislature is considering whether to allow them to arm themselves.

Often when there's an emergency needing police and fire, firefighters are the first to arrive to the scene. Because they sometimes go in the front door first and don't know what's on the other side, a Georgia lawmaker wants them to be armed.

The issue began last spring in Gwinnett County when a group of firefighters were held hostage by a gunman. Now legislation is being pushed to allow firefighters to arm themselves.

Capt. William Terrell, spokesman for Camden County Fire and Rescue, said that may not be the best idea.

"You run into the logistics of how would you do that," he said. "With all the equipment and ammo, just a lot of nightmares you could run into doing that."

The proposed legislation would allow for individual departments to still not allow firearms and take precedence over state law. Camden County Fire and Rescue said it has a great working relationship with police, and particularly on domestic violence calls, rescuers wait for police before they go in the door. So the department probably would continue to ban the guns.

"They may not foresee firefighters doing their job fast enough, but again, in almost every situation there's also police or sheriff's (deputies) there to maintain the peace," Terrell said.

Despite some agencies not wanting to apply this proposed state law locally, there are some supporters, including a gun rights group called Georgia Carry.

"I am concerned that there are people who will do what Gwinnett County did and put them at risk," Jerry Henry, of Georgia Carry, said in a phone interview. "If the people are allowed to carry, then they decide whether they can carry or not. If they don't think they can do it safely, then fine, but they should have the right to protect themselves if they want to."

While Camden County Fire and Rescue said it doesn't run into security issues for its firefighters as often because of a great working relationship with police, in larger areas like Atlanta, proponents say it's more of an issue.

Opponents in the Legislature say this would harm firefighters' image with the public as people who are only there to help and save lives.

Comments

The views expressed below are not those of News4Jax or its affiliated companies. By clicking on "Post," you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and your comment is in compliance with such terms. Readers, please help keep this discussion respectful and on topic by flagging comments that are offensive or inappropriate (hover over the commenter's name and you'll see the flag option appear on right side of that line). And remember, respect goes both ways: Tolerance of others' opinions is important in a free discourse. If you're easily offended by strong opinions, you might skip reading comments entirely.

blog comments powered by Disqus