Should volunteers bring guns to disaster sites? | The Firearms Lawyer

Some Federal Way residents have devoted our evenings and weekends preparing for earthquakes, fire, WMD attacks or other disasters.

One of the primary ways to get ready is to attend CERT training.

Community Emergency Response Teams obtain first-aid skills, learn how to use fire extinguishers and practice other skills like prioritizing assistance to victims and communicating with professionals. The professionals that normally respond to criminal activity, fires or other hazards may become totally overwhelmed by the damage that occurs to people, structures and communication networks when disaster strikes.

The aftermath of a major event causes shock and other physical symptoms that impair every one of us to some degree. Preparation for civil defense is normally presented in terms of responding to the aftermath rather than preventing an event. Professional police officers, medical personnel and other emergency responders know that it will take many volunteers in order to deal with events like the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, or the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

One of our CERT instructors, a firefighter, said that only the police (and presumably military personnel as well) should have guns at a “crime scene.” If you show up as an armed CERT volunteer with a gun, your weapon could be confiscated and you should expect never to be on a CERT team again. And the “crime scene” could include most of South King County (shades of Katrina style gun confiscation). Nevertheless, another firefighter told me, off the record, that many firefighters packed during the L.A. riots.

To the horror of honest citizens everywhere (and as predators watched in glee during the days following Katrina), New Orleans authorities entered homes and re-victimized honest gun owners by confiscating guns. It took an NRA lawsuit to get the guns returned to the owners. Rape, looting and violence at the same time as homes were searched for weapons caused lawmakers in many states to enact laws that say, “Don’t confiscate guns when needed most to protect innocent lives.”

House Bill 1832 provides that Washingtonians not be deprived of our right to bear arms during an emergency. Just because many other states have recently enacted such legislation, don’t expect to see such safeguards for gun owners reported out of committee soon.

It could be dangerous having volunteers showing up at a “crime scene” with guns. Imagine how things could have gotten out of hand when tactical teams spread out through Mumbai killing and taking hostages. The shooters successfully targeted law enforcement. Untrained volunteers might have responded by harming themselves or others. Volunteers should leave the professionals to deal with terrorists.

If you are a CERT member and local police officers are lying dead in the streets, would you consider showing up with a gun? If you are law enforcement, would you be inclined to confiscate my weapon if I can provide backup? Make firearms training an optional component of CERT training. Then volunteers can be even more helpful to the professionals if things really get out of control.

I have had as much or more formal gun training in the classroom and on the range than many experienced law enforcement officers. But I decided to miss the final CERT drill rather than forego the chance to get additional AR-15 (an assault rifle) range time at our Civilian Marksmanship Program rifle practice.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Opinion: Public deserves honest information on sex education

The Washington comprehensive sex education bill passed in the Senate on March 7.

Grocery store staff are working hard to keep the shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo
Thank you grocery store clerks

Recognizing the sacrifices of our unsung essential workforce.

Federal Way trapped in a ‘Catch 22’

We are mediocre in a region that is rapidly becoming global, educated and economically relevant. We have a mountain to climb.

State of the City

Elections are next year, and with the high profile marketing for the event, the speech always sounds more like a “please vote for me” campaign kick-off.

Welcome to Olympia Mr. Johnson

Sometimes making a law isn’t pretty, and by the time everybody weighs in, that great idea may look completely different.

Mirror’s role in vetting Federal Way Council candidates

The Mirror conducted a background check on all 19 candidates who applied for the Pos. 2 vacancy.

19 want to join Federal Way City Council

The six remaining council members will decide who the new council member will be, and politics will play a role.

South King Fire and Rescue needs to think of public transparency

The “old boy’s club” that is our fire department doesn’t appear all that interested in having the taxpayers, who pay the bill, actually understand what is going.

Exploring Federal Way as a new frontier

Overcoming Federal Way’s general apathy toward exploring itself as a new frontier is essential for shedding the effects of being a hollowed-out corporate company town.

Short legislative session turns left

With a progressive agenda including comprehensive sex education, clean fuel standards and gun violence, Democrats will need to be cautious about overreach.

New state legislator reflects on Federal Way service

“My office and email address may have changed, but my values haven’t.”

Mayor’s style divides Federal Way community

Ferrell’s pattern of behavior is dividing the community in such a negative manner he needs to rethink his entire style if he hopes to be an effective leader.