Wyoming News Exchange

Wyoming News Exchage

Legislator pulls firearms bill, says it was mischaracterized


By Kathy Brown

Gillette News Record

Via Wyoming News Exchange


GILLETTE — A Campbell County state legislator has withdrawn a controversial bill he’d proposed on firearms reporting for national background checks.

Rep. Bill Pownall, a Republican who serves on the Judiciary Committee, has withdrawn House Bill 59 from consideration in the state Legislature’s 24-day budget session that starts Monday.

The bill and its sponsor have been the target of much criticism on social media since it came up for introduction. It would have had to receive a two-thirds majority vote in the House just to be considered, which was seen as unlikely to happen.

On Thursday, Pownall released a statement saying he’d effectively killed the measure and hopes to have a more robust discussion about the proposal at a later time.

At the same time, he thought the controversy was unwarranted because others were misreading the bill.

“As a Wyoming native, gun owner and law enforcement officer of 38 years, I’ve been a staunch defender of the Second Amendment my entire life,” the former Campbell County sheriff said in the statement. “Let me be clear, this bill does not take away guns from honest, law-abiding citizens, it only helps address laws on the books today.”

Some have equated Pownall’s bill to fix the state’s mental health reporting for background checks to a “red flag law.” For Pownall, it was a matter of safety and help for gun dealers who face liability and possible lawsuits over the issue.

“I knew a few people would have trouble with it, but I didn’t expect this,” Pownall said last week, adding that some Facebook posts about the measure have been particularly nasty.

“They got a lot of good names for me,” he said. “Other legislators told me, ‘Boy you’ve opened up a whole box of worms.’

“I feel people are not reading it correctly. It’s something that has caught a lot of flak out there that I want to take away guns or I’m against the Second Amendment.”

Pownall said those who can’t buy guns because of a mental health issue — such as being involuntarily committed — also have the ability to appeal that determination to the courts, something the bill contained in its provisions.

Wyoming is one of three states in the nation that doesn’t report to the federal government on mental health issues.


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