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Ed Hooper files paramedic gun bill

The bill would apply active shooter, hostage, bomb or narcotics situations.

State Sen. Ed Hooper wants some medical professionals to be able to carry guns while they’re on duty.

The first-term Senator filed a bill Tuesday that would grant trained gun owners in certain medical professions some of the same rights as law enforcement officers.

It would not automatically grant any authority to paramedics or doctors to carry weapons. The bill requires applicable professionals to undergo training and to meet a rigorous set of requirements.

The bill (SB 722) would apply to paramedics or doctors who work on high-risk incidents and who are “actively operating in direct support of tactical operations by a law enforcement agency.”

The bill would apply to active shooter, hostage, bomb, high-risk felony warrant, narcotics or dangerous surveillance situations, among others.

To qualify, the medical professional would have to be lawfully allowed to possess a firearm and have an active concealed weapons permit.

The head of a law enforcement agency the doctor or paramedic is partnered with would have to appoint them to a tactical team within that agency.

To participate, law enforcement agencies would have to establish policies for appointing, training and deploying armed medical professionals and would have to require annual firearm safety and tactical training.

Hooper’s bill is identical to a House bill (HB 487) filed last month by Winter Springs Republican Rep. David Smith. That bill is awaiting debate in the House Judiciary Committee and the Criminal Justice and Health Quality subcommittees.

Hooper’s bill has not been referred to any committees yet.

Similar measures are gaining traction nationwide as first responders or groups representing them continue to raise concerns about safety on dangerous sites, though not all first responders agree with such measures.

Ohio already has a similar law in place and a Tennessee state lawmaker filed a bill the same day Hooper did. Other states including Texas, Georgia, Kansas and New York have also considered EMS carry bills.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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