Letter Re: CERT Training

Regarding CERT Training: Thinking about volunteering your time with your local Department of Emergency Management? You may need to leave your concealed carry at home!

I submitted an application to join a volunteer section of the Pierce County Washington Department of Emergency Management. I received a packet in the mail that contained additional forms that needed to be submitted. One of the forms was a Pierce County Department of Emergency Management Emergency Worker Registration Form. One item had to do with certifying my non-drug use and also prohibiting “any concealed weapon possession while engaged in emergency worker activities” . The reference for this was WAC 118-04-200.

I reviewed WAC 118-04-200 and could not find any mention of weapons. I decided to fill out the forms, except I drew a line through the portions referencing concealed weapons. I submitted the forms and included a note on the front of the forms packet noting my action made in paragraph 3.

I received an E-mail thanking me for my interest but that they “could not accept an application that has been modified”. They also stated that “If I would like to re-submit my application without alterations, they would be glad to send it through the review process.” I also received a phone call from a department manager who basically stated the same policy, adding, that it was the local sheriff that levied the requirement.

This letter is not meant to reflect negatively in any way about the specific section of Emergency Management I was attempting to volunteer for. I have the highest respect for its members and their outstanding dedication to their mission, but for all of those who are responsible citizens who want to help their neighbors and fellow county residents, you may want to “stretch the truth” when it comes to filling out the forms.

I fully understand that if I had been asked to work in school or federal buildings during an emergency, there would never have been a question about my not being allowed to carry a weapon. However, for the county to have a zero tolerance and forbid ANY possession is unacceptable in my opinion, especially during an major emergency situation. – Wrangler57

HJL Replies: We have covered this subject before. There is no requirement from a federal level other than laws already on the books. i.e. Schools, Courthouses, et cetera. Your state may have laws that apply that are more restrictive and counties/cities may have even more restrictive laws. If you are volunteering with an organization, you need to know what the scope of that organization is, and you are responsible for adhering to those laws that you may be subject to during your tenure with them. I am quite confident that if TEOTWAWKI happens, most of those laws will be ignored, if not actually thrown out the window. However, while you are simply practicing or responding in a situation that is anything less than TEOTWAWKI, you must adhere to them. As you have discovered, you are also at the whim of the organization’s leader. If that leader is your sheriff, or if the leader defers to the sheriff and your sheriff won’t let you carry, you are stuck with that decision. Only you can make the decision as to whether to ignore or obey the rule and to what extent you do it, but by the same token, there may be consequences either way that you may be subject to.