Bill proposed would arm some paramedics in North Carolina

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A bill being considered by North Carolina lawmakers would allow some paramedics to carry concealed weapons during specific emergency situations.

Those situations are “tactical medical assistance to law enforcement in an emergency situation, including a SWAT operation.”

Rep. Harry Warren said the motivation to draft the bill came at the request of one of his constituents who works as an EMT and is embedded with a SWAT team.

Warren said that in certain situations, there is an increased level of risk to first responders. For example, if they are away from the tactical team or held hostage, he said being unarmed would leave them unable to protect themselves or any victims.

He also said paramedics who qualify would be extensively trained in firearm safety, and this would not apply to every EMS personnel.

Rep. Deb Butler was present during the House Judiciary Committee meeting this week when the bill was brought up for discussion.

She said she thinks it would set a bad precedent and that she received “hundreds of emails in opposition to it.”

“We are already talking about an environment where there are plenty of police officers, plenty of law enforcement, plenty of guns, and ample protection,” Butler said. “So this is just on somebody’s wish list. I just don’t see it as a legitimate need.”

North Carolinians Against Gun Violence is one group against this bill. The group said it doesn’t think the bill would help people who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

“Simply adding more guns into these sensitive situations is not the way to go,” Becky Ceartas said. “If law enforcement is on the job, it is their role to provide for public safety.”

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