Local fire chief reacts to new gun law

Kansas governor Sam Brownback signed house bill 2502 into law this week, a bundle of gun-legislation from the session. It will allow public employees like firefighters and paramedics to concealed carry a weapon while on the clock.

One local fire chief will be hesitant to adopt the law over to his department.

“A fire can be a dangerous situation itself and if you have a gun there, and it falls out of somebody’s pocket, it could go off accidentally and hit somebody or it could explode and hurt somebody. So there again, I have reservations. I’d rather the firefighters carry a fire extinguisher than a gun,” Galena volunteer fire chief Bill Hall said.

Current law allows Kansas public employees to conceal carry at work. The passing of the recent law allows the expansion of that into when they go out into the community for work or to run calls.

“With the military police, they said never draw your weapon unless you intend to use it. And I think the same way with public employees. Particularly with the fire department, I really believe the fire chief should have discretion on who carries weapons,” Hall said.

Supporters of the bill say it will best protect those employees should they enter a dangerous scene before police protection arrives.

“I feel it would be a good thing for them to have firearms, simply because they would be able to protect citizens better. And if the police hadn’t arrived at the scene, then they would be able to do a better job essentially, they would be more well-equipped,” Crawford county resident Gabriel Brotherton said.

To prevent a public employee carrying a concealed weapon from entering a building with the weapon, a “no gun” sign must be posted at the door.

“Well I’m not going to carry a weapon. I’m going to carry a fire extinguisher,” Hall said.

Of local legislators, senator Jake LaTurner and representative Adam Lusker voted in favor of the bill. Representative Chuck Smith voted against the bill.