Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Texas bill would let firefighters, EMTs carry firearms

 

There is a bill in Texas to require employers to allow EMS personnel to carry guns on the job.
 

“I would be in favor of leaving guns in the hands of police officers,” Waco Fire Chief Bobby Tatum said. “We have a specific mission to save lives and property, and I think carrying a firearm would cross the line in that regard.” [1]

 

What is the possible benefit?

As I have written about this before –

When would armed EMS make any difference?

Other than those times it makes things worse, when would it make a difference?
 

Below, Dara O’Briain spends a minute on the frustration of trying to explain to people, who don’t understand statistics, that crime rates are definitely going down. Following that, I provide evidence.
 


 

And they go, but the fear of crime is rising.

Well, so what? Zombies are at an all time low, but the fear of zombies could be incredibly high.

 

Here is the murder rate in America from 1960 to 2012 (the most recent data available from the FBI when I made the graph for Thanksgiving in 2015). The 2012 murder rate was 4.7 per 100,000. 2013 and 2014 were lower, both at 4.5 per 100,000.
 

US Murder Rate - 1960 - 2014
 

This is the murder rate in Canada compared with the murder rate in America and whether the death penalty has an effect on either. In the chart, the murder rate of Canada is on a scale that is tripled to show similar changes year to year. This chart is a decade old, but the murder rate in the US and Canada continued to drop in the newer data.
 

Murder rates US vs Canada 1950 - 2005 aa
Source: John J. Donohue III, Justin Wolfers, Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate, Discussion Paper No. 1949 (January 2006) available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=870312.
 

What about in the Good Ol’ Days, when everything was so much better than now?
 

Homicide rates (per 100,000 people) 14th - 20th centuries - Millennium by Ian Mortimer a
 

In the Good Ol’ Days, things were not good and few people lived long enough to get old.
 

I regularly criticize What if . . . ? fear mongering.

This is one of the greatest harms of EMS. We need to stop this dependence on scaring people with stories of monsters in closets. We need to deal with reality.

This fear mongering is lowering ourselves to the level of alternative medicine.
 

What will happen the first time someone in EMS shoots someone, fires a gun, points a gun at someone, or just brandishes a gun?

Was it justified?

What will the repercussions be?

When would any outcome have been better if EMS carried guns?

How would it have been better?

Assume that only 10% of the people in EMS who will carry guns on the job are below average (yes, that means that 90% are above average). How much trouble can that 10% cause?

Assume that only 1% are below average. How much trouble can that 1% cause with below average decisions?

There is nothing in this bill to prevent that 1% from carrying on every call. The carry license is both the floor and the ceiling for qualification for armed EMS.[2]
 

Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing we can do, but some people need to do something, even though there is no reason to expect it to do any good. This is another case of doing something just to do something.

If we are going to change how we do things, we should insist on thorough documentation of every intervention, just as we should for any other EMS intervention. The bill does not mention any kind of tracking of the effects of this legislation.[2]
 

Can employers require training/skills verification? Only possession of a valid carry license is mentioned. No further skill requirement is mentioned in the bill.[2]

What will happen to the insurance rates for the employer? Insurance companies are not looking to donate money to make EMS feel good.

Will people leave EMS in order to get away from partners they don’t trust with guns? How many do that now for bad driving?

Will we end up with more people who couldn’t get onto the police force, because lights and sirens and guns is better than lights and sirens?

Will EMS providers in Texas be told that this is a replacement for the raise they were going to get?

If some people feel unsafe without their guns, because they mistakenly believe that the murder rate is increasing, when it is definitely dropping, in what other ways are they making bad decisions? Will giving the confused fear of rising crime people guns act as a security blanket, so that they will feel safer and focus on their patients? Or will the confused fear of rising crime people use the guns to act on some other confusion? It probably won’t be that simple.
 

PS – Is this a Constitutional issue?

Employers are permitted to limit some other important civil rights, such as speech, during work hours. We can always choose to work in jobs that permit us to be armed on the job. Security guard, police officer, corrections officer

Of course corrections officers have to carry guns. They are surrounded by inmates.

Actually, corrections officers do not carry guns when they are around inmates. It seems that introducing a gun into that environment is not considered a good idea.

Footnotes:

[1] Texas bill would let firefighters, EMTs carry firearms – The bill would implement a statewide policy requiring jurisdictions to allow responders to carry while on duty
EMS1.com
Feb 14, 2017
By EMS1 Staff
Article

[2] Texas House Bill 982
Bill Text: TX HB982 | 2017-2018 | 85th Legislature | Introduced
TX State Legislature page for text of HB982

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