Wyoming Senate Committee Shoots Down Gun-Free Zone Repeal
The Wyoming Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted against a Senate bill that would have repealed gun-free zones in Wyoming public buildings.
However, a House bill that would do the same thing was still awaiting committee action as of mid-day Wednesday.
A long parade of about 15 witnesses appeared at the Senate hearing in opposition to Senate File 75, including several representing schools, school board, and the Wyoming Education Association. Barb Cook of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America told the committee that studies show the presence of firearms increases the risk of suicide by 300 percent and the risk of homicide by 200 percent. Tammy Johnson of the Wyoming Education Association said her daughter was so terrified by the proposal that she said she might forego her senior year of high school if the bill became law.
Dr. Joe Schaffer, President of Laramie County Community College and also representing the Wyoming Community College Presidents Council told the committee that Wyoming Community Colleges feel decisions about firearms on campus are best made at the local level, in this case by college trustees. He also said LCCC has a procedure in place allowing people to ask for the ability to carry guns on campus.
By contrast, no members of the public spoke in favor of the bill, leaving that task to legislative sponsors of the measure.
Sen. Anthony Bouchard [R-Laramie County] told the committee that the right to carry firearms is an enumerated constitutional right that should override local efforts at gun control, adding that under the current laws people traveling across Wyoming face a variety of local gun laws and restrictions.
"You shouldn't have to face a patchwork of gun laws as you drive across Wyoming" Bouchard said.
He also said that argument that gun-free zones should be a local decision is bogus, because of a longstanding state preemption "was set on the books decades ago" that clearly nullifies the idea that gun-free zones should be a local decision.
Bouchard also told the committee that others who wanted to testify in favor of Senate File 75 had been prevented from doing so by weather conditions that made it impossible for them to travel.
When a vote was taken on the bill, Sen. Brian Boner ( a bill co-sponsor) and committee Chair. Sen. Tera Nethercott, both Republicans, voted in favor of sending the bill on to the full Wyoming Senate. But Republican Senators Micheal Von Flatern and R.J. Kost and Democrat Lisa Anselmi-Dalton joined together to defeat the measure.