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New gun control law acknowledges the danger first responders face

Posted at: 01/15/2013 8:57 PM
Updated at: 01/15/2013 8:59 PM
By: Ray Levato

The new gun control law has new provisions that acknowledge the danger that first responders face every day. It raises the penalty for knowingly causing the death of a fire responder to first-degree murder.

Up until now, that's been reserved for police and other peace officers. The penalty is mandatory life in prison without parole.

Al Sienkiewicz, West Webster Fire Department, said, “Well, obviously, we support Mark's law.”

Al Sienkiewicz speaks for the fire chief of the West Webster Fire Department.
They allowed News10NBC to take pictures of their EMTs on duty, but said the tragedy was still too recent to interview them on camera.

Sienkiewicz said, “Let's be honest. With the events of Christmas Eve, that individual had a serious problem. And I doubt anything was going to deter him from anything he wanted to do.”

The New York State Senate first passed a similar bill last June called "Mark's Law," in memory of Mark Davis, an EMT who was shot to death while responding to a call for help in Cape Vincent, New York in January of 2009. The law would add the emergency crews to the list that now includes police officers, peace officers, uniformed court officers, parole officers, probation officers, employees of the division of youth, and corrections
officers.

The bill defines first responders as firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, ambulance drivers, doctors and nurses and any other persons involved in first response teams.

Bob Meddaugh, Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life Support, said, “I don't think it will change the way we respond.”

EMT and former paramedic Bob Meddaugh is president of the Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life Support in Webster. He was on the scene Christmas eve.
Meddaugh said, “Firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, in many cases we're all on the scene with the police officers. And I think it's a good thing we're all offered the same protection under the law as police officers.”

Sienkiewicz: For a rational person, for whatever reason they might be considering something like this, it may be a deterrent to know the repercussions of his or her act would be. But as far as what this department has gone through, I would be surprised if it would.”

The Webster tragedy changed how first responders approach a scene now.
They're much more cautious. But they say this new law won't cause them to breath any easier.