Bill would allow guns at meetings

By: 
Sofia Saric with the Casper Star-Tribune, via the Wyoming News Exchange

CASPER —A series of bills could eliminate gun-free zones in government buildings and meetings for those with concealed carry permits and introduce an “enhanced” permit that would allow firearms in the Wyoming Capitol. 

 

One of the three bills introduced at this year’s legislative session seeks to repeal gun-free zones in government and legislative meetings; it would make it so that any person lawfully carrying a concealed weapon in Wyoming may bring that weapon into any government, legislative or committee meeting. 

 

The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Sen. Anthony Bouchard, is the former director of the hard-line gun rights group Wyoming Gun Owners and was the subject of a highly publicized run-in with students at the University of Wyoming in spring 2017 over their gun reform presentation. 

 

Another bill introduced over the weekend would create an “enhanced” carry permit, which could be issued by the attorney general in certain cases. 

 

In addition to the pre-existing requirements for a concealed carry permit, applicants would be eligible for an enhanced permit if they can provide evidence that they were employed as a peace officer in Wyoming within the past year or completed firearms safety training. 

 

These courses provide basic training in the safe use of a firearm and are conducted by an instructor certified by the National Rifle Association or the Wyoming law enforcement academy. 

 

No one under 21 years old would be eligible for this enhanced permit. 

 

Applications would be available and distributed by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and local law enforcement. 

 

If the bill is made into law, it would open the door for another bill that would allow concealed firearms on the grounds of the State Capitol for those who acquire the new enhanced permit. 

 

Both bills are sponsored by Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan. 

 

Those with an enhanced permit would be required to notify the Wyoming Highway Patrol that they intend to have a concealed firearm in the State Capitol building no less than 24 hours beforehand. Then they would be able to enter any area open to the public with their concealed weapon. 

 

The Wyoming Highway Patrol, which provides security at the Capitol, did not respond by deadline to a request for comment about what implications, if any, this bill would have on safety at the Capitol building.

 

In the United States, at least 21 state capitols allow some form of legal firearm carry for either visitors, legislators, employees or all of the above, the Crime Prevention Research Center said. The center does academic research on the relationship between laws regulating the ownership or use of guns.

 

This story was published on Jan. 25, 2023.

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