The Wyoming Legislature is aiming a preemptive strike at potential federal restrictions on assault rifles and high capacity magazines.
Other bills would OK concealed weapons in public meetings and allow citizens to pack hideout guns in schools.
“Social issues and gun bills are everywhere it seems,” said Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody.
Coe was sponsoring House Bill 200 — “Concealed weapons-government meetings” — from the Senate.
HB 200 died in committee Tuesday.
“It was a bill, I think, that was misunderstood from the beginning,” said Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown.
HB 200 would have allowed citizens to carry concealed weapons to meetings like county commissions and city councils, as long as the individual chairing the meeting said it was OK.
Some believed the bill allowed only those chairing the meetings to carry. So the bill was amended to specifically state anyone could carry a concealed weapon if they received consent from the chair, Brown said.
The bill was written with the public’s safety in mind. Those with evil intent would not likely inform anyone they were carrying a gun to a public meeting. On the other hand, a law abiding citizen with a concealed weapon would not cause any reaction, but a law abiding citizen openly carrying a gun might be considered provocative by a potential evil-doer, Brown said.
Unless there are posted signs prohibiting it, folks can openly carry a gun anywhere in Wyoming, said Chief Roy Eckerdt of the Powell Police Department.
“I’m 100 percent behind the Second Amendment, but you have got to have common sense,” said Powell Mayor Don Hillman. He can’t understand why anyone would wish to carry a gun to a public event.
Gun to school
Similarly HB 104 would allow people with a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon to a Wyoming school or college.
He owns guns and has a concealed weapon permit, but he can’t understand why anyone would want to carry a gun to a school, school game or city council meeting. If he believes there will be a shoot out at an event he is planning to attend, he won’t go. “Powell Wyoming isn’t Dodge City and I’m not Wyatt Earp,” Hillman said.
If there is a threat to citizens, call the police, Hillman said.
The bill was placed on general file Wednesday.
Forestall fed gun
The state would be in charge of all aspects of weapons and ammunition in HB 103.
Will the state of Wyoming face a lawsuit if 103 is passed?
The non-partisan Legislative Service Office issued a legal analysis that did not pass a final judgement on 103, but did note that the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that federal laws surpass or preempt state laws, according to The Associated Press.
Does the federal government have the authority to regulate gun laws? asked Eckerdt.
He read an article about a child in Washington, D.C. who shot another child. The boy didn’t understand that there was no video game-like reset button when his playmate didn’t stand up. On the other hand, kids in Wyoming know what guns are capable of, Eckerdt said.
Some laws or regulations should be administered by the federal government and some should not, Eckerdt added.
The bill was placed on the general file Tuesday.
No fed jurisdiction
HB 104 says any federal law banning semi-automatic firearms or the size of magazine clips is unenforceable in Wyoming. As the bill stood Tuesday, any federal employee who enforces U.S. regulations pertaining to assault weapons or high-capacity magazines on a Wyoming citizen would be guilty of a felony.
Many people in the committee room stood to show their support for the bill and no one in the audience spoke against it, said the AP article.
Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, voted against the bill in committee Tuesday. “What we’re doing with this bill is attempting to pre-empt the federal constitution,” Connolly said.
The bill was placed on the general file Wednesday.
Act in self-defense
HB 105 or the “Citizens’ and Students’ Self-Defense Act,” would allow individuals with state-issued concealed carry permits to enter any school, college or professional athletic event with their concealed weapon.
Faced with a horrific event like Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., could an everyday citizen shoot the killer?
He knows from experience that school shooters are looking for easy targets. When confronted with armed resistance, they often commit suicide, Eckerdt said.
After killing 26 people at Sandy Hook, Adam Lanza took his own life.
The bill was placed on the general file Wednesday.
HB 216 would make it a felony for holding a weapon while in a courtroom. An amendment to the bill would allow the judge to pack a firearm.
The bill passed committee Wednesday.
Bill of silence
Although a bill allowing hunters to attach sound suppressors to their rifles died Jan. 18 in the House, the very same bill is Senate File 132.
The Wyoming Game Wardens Association spoke against the House bill, saying the sound of shots helped game wardens hear poachers.
“I have to agree with the Game and Fish,” Eckerdt said. “The only reason to use a silencer is to poach.”
The bill passed the Senate and was introduced and referred to the House Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Interim Committee Tuesday.