LARAMIE -- The Second Amendment of our U.S. Constitution protects “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” In recent times, in spite of the relatively clear language used to define the true meaning of the few words used, what it means to bear arms has become the subject of debate. The fact that bearing arms involves the public carrying of arms to some extent is clear enough, but to whom the right extends, where it extends, and in what manner remains unsettled due to differing state and federal recognition of the Second Amendment.

What manner of carrying a weapon the Second Amendment protects—specifically, whether the concealed carrying of arms is protected, is also considered a matter of interpretation for some citizens. The Supreme Court, American history and tradition, and the most influential lower court decisions indicate that it is.

Steve Allred is a Certified Concealed Firearm Permit Instructor from Laramie. He has certification from not only the State of Wyoming, but from Utah, Montana, and a few other states. He is certified to teach concealed carry and firearms safety which is required in order to obtain a Concealed Firearms Permit in most states, including Wyoming.

He is also qualified to advise on the laws, and how to avoid placing yourself in a dangerous, if not an illegal, situation that could have easily been avoided.

“I had the opportunity to start instructing when I was in the Marine Corps in 2008 and was certified in the Corps. When I got out of the Marines Corps, I started looking at starting my own company. We started a tactical training company in Lovell, where we sold firearms, offered training, and it evolved into what we do today.”

After a 4-year active duty stint in the Marines, Allred was in law enforcement for nearly 5 years and has been in Laramie for about 18 months with his wife and 4-year-old daughter.

Allred explained that in 2011, Wyoming changed the law making it a Constitutional Carry State, for Wyoming residents only.

“That means that you no longer have to get your permit if you want to qualify. But what a lot of people misunderstand about the law, is that you still have to follow the same requirements as if you had a permit. What I saw when we were teaching was that a lot of people had no formal training with a handgun. That’s where people were confused. I still deal with customers that have been carrying for years, but have no formal training,” said Allred.

“I don’t think you run into a lot of problems in the State of Wyoming. But it’s that potential. If you get stopped, or if something happens where you actually do have to use your firearm for self-defense, those kinds of questions are going to come up.”

Why get a Wyoming CFP when Wyoming is a Constitutional carry state? He said there are many benefits to holding a CFP, including skipping the background check on firearm purchases, carrying in national parks, and carry privileges in over 35 states. Currently, Wyoming permits are honored in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

“When reciprocity gets to the federal level, there are always proposals. Nothing I've seen so far has made a step in the right direction. I do know Wyoming, if it’s not the top, it’s ranked very high as far as reciprocity that we have with other states. All of our neighboring states are qualified for that. That changes, too. I tell people all the time. You can’t look at the map one time and assume that in 5 years, it’s going to be the same. Every year that changes. You’ve got to stay up on where you are going,” Allred said.

“The other side of that, too, is Wyoming has very lenient firearm laws. But you go to a place like Illinois or California, where we are not recognized, you can’t just carry your gun in those states. You have to follow whatever laws they have. Even if you are going through states that do recognize our concealed carry permit, you still have to follow their laws because they may be different. Magazine restrictions – you look at Colorado being a 10-round maximum for your firearm. If you’re carrying a weapon that holds 17 or 18 rounds, that’s going to cause you problems if you get stopped.”

Allred said his next course, this Saturday, June 15, costs $100. He is also holding an all-woman course the following week on June 22.

“It’s on a private range with a private classroom. It’s nice because it’s all in-house training now. We no longer have to contract with different ranges and pay the fees and liability associated with those. We’re on our own, which is what we’ve been shooting for this for a lot of years. We can hold 10 per class with my range capacity. So far, we’ve had a good response.

“My goal coming out here to Laramie, being new to the community . . . we’re trying to give back. I want to be able to incorporate some of our courses with just teachers. We want to be able to incorporate our course for volunteer work, where guys and girls want to come out and just shoot and get additional training. That’s what we’re here for,” Allred said.

“With the new laws that have been coming out with teachers and school districts, we want to be able to hopefully associate ourselves with them, even if their school district isn’t allowing the teachers to carry in the school, we’re still going to have trained teachers.

“Because one of the big parts of our course is mindset – going into a situation and understanding indicators, what to look for before shooting takes place, or an active shooter in a school, or a threat on the street. A lot of times, you can pick up those indicators, if you’re paying attention. If you can see that, then 9 times out of 10 you’ll never have to get to that shooting portion of the situation.

“We try to teach that in our classes, along with the laws, because I think there are a lot of misconceptions with that. There is a lot of interpretation that takes place. That’s what laws are there for. They’re not really clear all the time, especially with firearms.

“Looking at using your firearm in a self-defense situation, it can be sticky. A lot of times when you go through that, even if it’s clearly a justified shooting, you’re still going to be going through that legal process for a while. We teach that in our courses and hopefully try to give people an understanding by the time they leave, they’ll be very clear on what they can and can’t do with their weapon,” Allred said.

“I try to tell people that there is a big difference between law enforcement and civilians. Your job as a concealed carry holder is not to be law enforcement. That is not your job. Your job is, ultimately, to be a very good witness, and assist law enforcement when they need your help. You get too many people that think that by carrying a weapon, it’s their job to go intervene in every situation. It’s not. If you want to do that, you want that to be your job, I recommend applying for law enforcement and getting involved.

“But, at that level, as civilians, it’s really putting yourself in a bad predicament. We see that on the news, and I think a lot of the situations could have been avoided. For whatever reason, they chose to intervene.”