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Wyoming is on the cusp of repealing gun-free zones with the introduction of a new bill, effectively turning the state into the Wild Wild West.

Wild Wild West: With new bill, Wyoming is poised to repeal gun-free zones

Wyoming’s repeal of gun-free zones, including public schools and government meetings, passed both chambers of the state legislature on Thursday and is heading to Governor Mark Gordon’s desk. If not vetoed within three business days, it will become law.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, the bill is motivated by respect for the Second Amendment.

“The day I turned 21 I went and got my concealed carry permit. And I asked the question, ‘Why are there so many areas in our state that our public areas, where I couldn’t carry that firearm?’” Haroldson said. “Four years ago, when I first ran, one of the things I ran on was the elimination of gun-free zones … It’s just a fundamental right. Are gun-free zones truly acceptable under our Second Amendment?”

The legislation would allow concealed carry in any public elementary or secondary school, college or university, or government meeting. It would carve out exceptions for health and human services facilities and public events where alcohol is sold. While the bill allows concealed carry on K-12 campuses, students would not be allowed to carry.

“All our school districts could have armed school teachers, and most haven’t chosen to. We have four school districts in the state that already allow this. This is a local control issue and best handled that way,” said Beth Howard, legislative lead at Wyoming Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.

The bill allows school districts to adopt rules for how their employees may legally concealed carry, but they can not set rules or training expectations for members of the public on school property.

Private property owners are still allowed to restrict concealed carry on their property.

The bill breezed through the Wyoming House but was considered dead on arrival in the Senate Judiciary. In a surprise move, the legislation was resuscitated in an unusual overrule vote, in which the Senate suspended its own rules.

Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, says the bill raises concerns about its preemption of local control and questions about whether or not it will make Wyoming’s schools safer.

“We know that with law enforcement, who have thousands of hours of training in firearms, in instances where they’re shooting back and forth, they have an 18% accuracy rate. I don’t trust that having people with far less training makes schools safer,” Provenza said.

Haroldson, the bill’s sponsor, believes it will add security to government meetings when national rhetoric is becoming increasingly divisive and sometimes violent.

“Bad people do bad things; they don’t need a law to say that they can or can’t do bad things,” Haroldson said. “Signs never protect people. If all you have to protect you is a sign, that’s not protection.”




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