Moves comes nine months after gunmen took five unarmed firefighters hostage.

Proposal would allow Georgia firefighters to carry guns

by Jon Shirek, WXIA-TV

ATLANTA -- It has been nine months since a man in Gwinnett County lured five firefighters into his home by faking a possible heart attack, and, knowing they were not armed, took them all hostage at gunpoint.

The police SWAT team was able to rescue the firefighters, shooting and killing the gunman.

Some Georgia state legislators believe that incident is key evidence in support of their efforts to authorize firefighters, statewide, to carry their own firepower while out on calls.

Rep. Kevin Cooke, R-Carrollton, introduced a bill Thursday, called House Bill 807, co-signed by several other House members, to permit firefighters to carry firearms while on duty, if they wish, and if they have the permission of their superior officers.

Critics say the bill, if passed into law, would cause more problems than it would solve.

Supporters say the need is ever-present.

"I just think it's overkill," said Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta. "Of course I'm concerned with (the firefighters') safety. If there's a pattern of situations where firefighters are at risk, then yes. But I don't think we're at that point, now.... When people see firefighters, they're almost always glad to see them coming, because a firefighter means help. Arming firefighters will provide a distraction to their core functions, protecting people and serving the public."

"I think that anybody that has to be in public should be allowed to defend themselves anywhere they go," said Jerry Henry of "This is a dangerous world. Firefighters are no different.... We have never said that everybody should be armed, we say that everybody should have the right to decide whether they want to be armed, or not.

In Gwinnett County, where the firefighters were taken hostage last year, Fire Chief Casey Snyder stated in an email Thursday that he has no plans to allow his firefighters to arm themselves while they're on duty, even if the legislature passes this bill.

"The Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services has no knowledge of the content of House Bill 807 nor did we participate in the writing of the bill. Regardless of the outcome, the department has no plans to change its current procedures. Anyone seeking information should contact the individuals or agencies responsible for the development of the bill."

More Local

Sheriff warns of new phone scam

The Coweta County Sheriff’s Office is alerting the community that another prepaid card phone scam is happening. This time, the caller ... Read More

Newnan City Council to meet Thursday evening

Just a reminder that the second October meeting for the Newnan City Council will be on Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. and not on Tuesday afte ... Read More

Correction to Northgate Football game time

Local students prepare for homecomings

The 2015 Homecoming celebrations for all three Coweta County High Schools are this week. East Coweta High School’s (ECHS) Homecoming t ... Read More

Bohannon anniversary concert Tuesday

  Iconic musical artist Hamilton Bohannon will celebrate 50 years in the music industry on Tuesday with a concert. The Bohannon Element ... Read More

Simple Pleasures

Midnight Tuesday is deadline for photography contest

Deadline for the McRitchie Hollis Museum’s 7th Annual Simple Pleasures Photography Competition is Tuesday at midnight. Award-winning p ... Read More

Low-cost healthcare clinic opens in Senoia

For many years, Your Town Health has wanted to open a clinic in Coweta County. It has finally happened. The local community medical center o ... Read More